But the ability of scientists, doctors and companies to tell us how our genes might impact our health now hinges on a case being debated by the U.S. Supreme Court, the infamously drawn-out Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. The case dates back to a 2009 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and centers on the question of whether genes — those snippets of DNA that encode the proteins inside cells — can be patented. The ACLU and the scientists, advocacy organizations and patients it represents say no because a gene is something that exists in nature, just like a leaf, an oxygen molecule or gold. Myriad Genetics told the Court its inventors had created a new, never-before-seen molecule.
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We can already get our genes scanned for the bargain-basement price of $99. Soon we’ll be able to have entire genomes sequenced for less than the cost of a MacBook Air. That’s huge considering that not so long ago it cost billions of dollars to map a single genome.
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