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OBN Supports Stem Cell Patentability Consortium Letter

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
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Letter calls for patentability of products derived from pluripotent stem cells.

Abingdon, UK - OBN, the membership organisation supporting and bringing together the UK's emerging life sciences companies, corporate partners and investors, announces its participation in the Stem Cell Patentability Consortium aimed at protecting the interests of life science companies working in the stem cell field.

Stem cell-based therapies hold much promise for the treatment of a variety of acquired and inherited diseases and for the formation of replacement organs.  The development of such products relies on the manipulation of human embryonic stem cells and its commercial viability is currently in the balance as the European Court of Justice considers the meaning of the term “human embryo” in the context of patenting  - covered by the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions Directive 98/44/EC.

As the law stands a patent which includes the use of a “human embryo” for industrial or commercial purposes cannot be patented.  The Consortium, created and led by law firm Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP (MAB), has been formed to support and argue the view that the use of pluripotent stem cells derived from an unfertilised embryo through parthenogenesis should not be regarded as “human embryos” as they are not capable of development of a viable human being.  The Consortium argues that patentability of this technology is crucial to the commercial viability of the embryonic stem cell research, the public interest for the treatment of human illness and the competitive position of the EU.

The Consortium has drafted a letter to be sent to the UK IPO who is positioned to advise the UK Government on its response to the European Court of Justice over the issue.   The strength of this submission is increased by the number and quality of signatories and OBN is supporting this initiative with its contacts within the stem cell industry.  If you are interested in influencing the outcome of this debate please become a signatory.

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