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Myriad sues competitor over cancer gene test

NEW YORK (AP) -- Myriad Genetics Inc. is suing a privately-held competitor to stop it from selling a genetic test that competes with Myriad's BRACAnalysis breast and ovarian cancer test.

Myriad says Ambry Genetics Corp. is infringing on 10 patents held by Myriad and its partners. It said the patents cover primers, probes, tests, and methods of testing related to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are linked to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad asked the court for a preliminary injunction blocking sales of any products that infringe on its patents.

Ambry said it will defend itself against the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.

Myriad disclosed the lawsuit in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. The Salt Lake City company is being joined in the lawsuit by the University of Utah, the University of Pennsylvania, the Hospital for Sick Children, and Endorecherche Inc.

The BRACAnalysis test detects genetic mutations linked to increased risks of breast and ovarian cancer, and the test is the source of most of Myriad's revenue. On June 13 the Supreme Court threw out two patents on the test, saying companies cannot patent genes that are naturally found in the body. However the court said synthetically created genetic material, called complementary or cDNA, can be patented.

Myriad said its tests are supported by other patents, but analysts say the ruling will open the door for competing tests and for additional scientific research. Ambry, of Aliso Viejo, Calif., announced the launch of its tests the same day. So did DNATraits, part of Houston-based Gene By Gene Ltd., which said its test would cost about a third as much as BRACAnalysis.

Shares of Myriad Genetics rose $1.07, or 3.6 percent, to $30.91 on Wednesday.