Shares of diagnostic test maker Myriad Genetics Inc. jumped Thursday after the Supreme Court issued a mixed ruling in a case involving the company's patents on genes at the center of its proprietary tests for increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Myriad, based in Salt Lake City, sells a popular test for a specific gene linked to breast cancer — the only test for that gene available because of its patents. They were challenged, leading to the Supreme Court's review, even though the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been awarding patents on human genes for almost 30 years.
The high court ruled that genes naturally found in the body cannot be patented, but that synthetically created genetic material, called cDNA, can be patented. That leaves an opening for Myriad to continue making money, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court's majority decision.
Patents give inventors the right to prevent others from making, using or selling a novel device, process or application, usually for a number of years.
In midday trading Thursday, Myriad shares were up 10.3 percent, or $3.48, at to $37.40. They had earlier set a 52-week high at $38.27, with trading volume already more than four times the daily average of 1.1 million shares of Myriad.