DNA is present in almost every type of cell in our body. Our DNA contains our individual genetic code, a blueprint that contains all the characteristics we inherit from our parents.

When one of our cells is about to divide, the DNA repackages itself into pairs of bundles called chromosomes. Each chromosome carries a certain amount of genetic information, distributed in units of information called genes. Each gene instructs cells how to make a particular protein. Each of these important products has one or more specific functions such providing structural support in cells or helping to speed up a particular chemical reaction. Even small variations in the genetic code, called
mutations, can alter the shape of the protein produced and, consequently may affect its ability to function normally.

We now know that the first so-called ‘breast cancer’ gene, known as BRCA1, acts as a ‘caretaker’ gene. It codes for a protein known as breast cancer type 1 susceptibility protein. This protein repairs breaks in DNA that often occur during normal cell division or following other causes of damage such as natural radiation. Hundreds of different mutations in the BRCA1 gene have now been documented, many of which are associated with an increased risk of cancer, especially breast and/or ovarian cancer.


Decoding Annie Parker Film

BRCA Gene Awareness has six months of exclusive rights to use the film Decoding Annie Parker to help educate the world about breast cancer awareness and treatment. .


The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments about Myriad Genetics’ claims of patents on the BRCA gene processes on April 15, 2013, and it issued its unanimous decision today.  Quoting from Lyle Denniston on the :

Pronouncing what may seem like a patent truism, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday that biotech researchers have to create something to get monopoly protection to study and apply the phenomenon.   Because Myriad Genetics, Inc., “did not create anything,” the Court struck down its patent on isolating human genes from the bloodstream, unchanged from their natural form.  Because Myriad did create a synthetic form of the genes, however, that could be eligible for a patent, the Court concluded.

The decision was a major blow to a company that believed it had a right to be the sole user and analyst of two human genes that show a high risk, for women found to have them in their blood, of breast and ovarian cancer.  But the ruling will give medical and scientific researchers, and family doctors, greater opportunity to help women patients discover their potential vulnerability to those types of cancer.

Long before Myriad thought about trying to patent the gene discovered after years and years of research, many women around the world knew that something was being passed down in their families.  The amazing story of one of those women, Annie Parker of Toronto Canada, and the work of Dr. Mary Claire King, are brilliantly told in the movie Decoding Annie Parker by Steven Bernstein.  In a tribute to all women who fight this battle every day, the filmmakers granted BRCA Gene Awareness, Inc., this non-profit, the opportunity to show the film around the world until mid-October to raise awareness and money to save women and their families from the scourge of breast cancer.

See the following briefs of the parties:

To read the transcript of the oral argument before the Court, .