Ellen Matloff on the Supreme Court Gene Patenting Decision
Ellen T. Matloff, MS, CGC
Published Online: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Ellen T. Matloff, MS, CGC, director of the Yale Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at the Yale School of Medicine/Yale Cancer Center, in New Haven, Connecticut, describes the impact of the US Supreme Court decision to restrict the patenting of segments of DNA in isolation.
The ruling ushers in an exciting time in the field of genetic counseling with vast implications across all diseases and genes, Matloff believes. As a result of the decision, the costs associated with genetic testing will greatly decrease. In general, within the next few years, Matloff believes that the costs associated with testing will decline from $4000 for two genes to under $1000 to sequence the entire exome. This decrease in costs will bring genetic testing into the average marketplace with broad applications for reimbursement, Matloff believes.
Increased access to genetic testing will result in the utilization of genetic information for cost-effective medical management. As an example, Matloff notes that rather than offering a mammogram to all women at age 40, genetics may be utilized to personalize the decision based on individual risks rather than a broad application.
Although the potential for next-generation sequencing of breast cancer tumors to improve treatment strategies is widely recognized, questions swirl about the optimal use of such increasingly available technologies in clinical practice for today’s patients.
A wide-ranging analysis of more than 5500 breast cancer tumors that combined genomic and protein expression testing has identified promising targets to explore for treating patients with poor prognoses, with particularly notable findings involving androgen receptor (AR) expression