March 9, 2016 1:23 pm

Ontario children’s hospital settles legal dispute over gene patents

A sign directing visitors to the emergency department is shown at the Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Friday, May 15, 2015 in Ottawa.


OTTAWA – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario says it has settled a legal dispute with the owner of five gene patents related to a potentially deadly heart rhythm disorder that runs in families.

The company, Transgenomic, has agreed to provide CHEO and all other Canadian public sector labs and hospitals the right to test Canadians for the condition – known as long QT syndrome – on a not-for-profit basis.

CHEO says the agreement resolves the immediate issue with testing for the disorder and provides a way to address gene patents more broadly.

The hospital’s president and CEO Alex Munter calls the news a tremendous win for families.

In 2014, lawyers for CHEO filed a challenge in Federal Court in Ottawa, arguing genes and other segments of the human genome should not be subject to patents for commercial or any other purposes.

Hospital lawyer Nathaniel Lipkus says the new agreement will act as a model for public access to future gene patents.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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