WASHINGTON - Naturally occurring human gene sequences cannot be patented but artificially created DNA can be, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday.

The verdict represented a compromise between the goals of the biotech industry, which wanted to preserve all its patents, and campaigners seeking unfettered access to genetic data for researchers and patients.

The nine justices issued the ruling after reviewing a 2012 appeals court decision that allowed biotechnology company Myriad Genetics Inc. to patent two genes it found had links to breast and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Actress Angelina Jolie recently underwent a double mastectomy as a preventative measure after discovering she had a mutation in one such gene and was thus at greater risk of developing breast cancer.

A Product of Nature

"A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated, but cDNA is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring," the court ruled.

A coalition of associations representing some 150,000 researchers, doctors and patients, asked the nation's top court to overturn the 2012 decision, as it stopped them from doing further work and research with the patented genes.