Britain's highest court upheld a patent on a gene sequence held by Human Genome Sciences related to its new lupus drug Benlysta, in a defeat for rival drugmaker Eli Lilly.

Wednesday's ruling from the Supreme Court chimes with similar support for the patent by the European Patent Office and overturns earlier court decisions in favour of Eli Lilly.

The case centres on a protein called neutrokine-alpha, which HGS identified and filed a patent for in 1996.

(Editing by Kate Kelland)