In 1995, researchers isolated several proteins produced during these infections, looking for possible targets for antibodies. One of the proteins they found was WYSLNGKIRAVDVPK, or GKIRAV for short.
...The bad news is that the researchers filed a patent which includes this sequence. The patent, published in 1999, gives the researchers exclusive control over this protein. If Kira wants to mess around with the protein, she could—in theory—be sued.
The good news is that in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down this type of gene patent. The case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., involved the patents protecting tests for genetic cancer risk. That means Kira is totally free to produce as much WYSLNGKIRAVDVPK as she wants.
Wrong on so many levels.
Firstly, the patent was filed, based on a PCT filed in the UK, in many other countries than the US, with the first document in the patent family being published in 1995. We aren't told where Kira comes from so it isn't clear that the US patent would be the one relevant to her research, or even that she comes from a place in which a patent has been granted.
Secondly, the US, like many other jurisdictions, has a research exemption that allows research to be carried out on the patented subject matter for certain purposes. This exception is narrow in the US (my understanding is it only covers research for the purpose of getting approvals) but in other countries it is broader.
Thirdly, whilst some of the independent claims are directed to a purified bacterial protein expressed during infection due to streptococci, and this at least appears to be a compound found in nature of the type found unelligible in Myriad
, it is not entirely clear that all of the claims (particularly claim 10) are of this nature. Not being a biologist it is hard for me to say, but a claim to recombinant DNA (which I understand is made in the lab) would seem not to fall within this exception unless that DNA is already found in nature.
Fourthly, any and all of the above is moot because the patent should have already expired.