European court’s ban on stem cell patents will harm research, say scientists

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 18 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6787
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

Research methods that involve the removal of stem cells from a human embryo that is destroyed cannot be patented under European law, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

In a judgment with profound implications for the development of stem cell therapies, the court held that a process involving the removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented.

Scientists said that the ruling may fetter the development in Europe of stem cell treatments for a range of diseases from Parkinson’s to blindness, because drug companies would not want to make the large investment needed if they could …

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