Recent years showed growing misunderstandings between the scientific community and the European Patent Office. It recently reached a new level with the public statement of the European Court of Justice’s advocate general proposing to ban human embryonic stem cells and derivatives from patentability. Thirteen prominent European scientists, each appointed stem cell research consortium coordinators by the European Commission publicly express their opposition to this last development.
They claim “Embryonic stem cell lines are not Embryos”, they are derived from supernumerary embryos from IVF treatments and donated to research. Resulting cells can be maintained in culture indefinitely to produce cell banks but are clearly unable to produce an embryo. The fear of embryo commercialization is simply irrelevant
It is also a scientific mistake to suggest that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) may – under the current scientific knowledge – replace embryonic stem cells in cell therapies.
A ban on embryonic stem cells patents would result in European discoveries being exploited elsewhere in the world. It seems unlikely that European patients would be excluded from such future medicines. In consequence, European public health care systems will have to import the applications of its very own discoveries.
In Press :
Doit être exclu de la brevetabilité un procédé qui, en utilisant le prélèvement de cellules souches obtenues à partir d’un embryon humain au stade du blastocyste, entraîne la destruction de l’embryon. , press release (october,18th,2011), Court of Justice of the European Union, on “Curia” website, in french
États-Unis : feu vert pour les recherches publiques sur l’embryon (May, 8th 2011) by Sandrine Cabut, on “Figaro” website, in french
‘No’ to ban on stem-cell patents (April, 28th 2011), by Austin Smith extract from the journal “Nature” (Vol. 472 ; page 418), on “Nature” website (not free)
Open letter: stem cell patent case could have far-reaching impact (April, 28th 2011) by Emma Kemp, on “EuroStemCell” website
Scientists Lobby European Court to Maintain Stem Cell Patents (April, 27th 2011), by Gretchen Vogel, on “Sciencemag” website
Embryo patent row could dash Europe’s stem cell future (April, 27th 2011), by Andy Coghlan, on “NewScientist” website
Cellules souches, embryon et Cour de justice de l’Union européenne (March, 27th 2011), “Droit-medical” website, in french
Court of Justice rejects stem-cell patents Researchers surprised by judge’s conservative stance (March, 10th 2011), by Alison Abbott, on “Nature” website
European Advocate General critical of stem cell patents (March, 10th 2011) by Emma Kemp, on “EuroStemCell” website
Stem cell patents and the European Court of Justice: news coverage on “EuroStemCell” website