Great article about leading stem cell scientists stating that the ECJ Advocate's recommendation to ban stem cell patents will block development of stem cell-based therapeutics in Europe. Here are the highlights from the article:
By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent
LONDON | Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:05pm EDT
LONDON (Reuters) - Research scientists hit out on Wednesday at a European Court of Justice (ECJ) case they say could block development of embryonic stem cell-based therapies in Europe.
The ECJ's advocate general has said all patents on embryonic stem cell-related technologies should be banned on moral grounds, but in a letter in the journal Nature and during a briefing in London, leading stem cell scientists said that could spell disaster for drug firms seeking treatments for conditions such as blindness and spinal chord injuries.
"If the ECJ was to follow this opinion, the reality is that all patents in Europe that relate to human embryonic stem cells will be eliminated," said Austin Smith of the Center for Stem Cell Research in Cambridge, one of letter's 13 signatories.
"This will put Europe at a huge disadvantage."
Smith and his fellow signatories -- who include leading stem cell researchers from all over Europe -- argued that patenting is a key step in the development of new medical treatments.
Without the protection of patents, they said, drug companies will not invest in the research or in the cell manufacturing technologies needed to develop stem cell therapies.
"Innovative companies must have patent protection as an incentive to become active in Europe," they wrote.
The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) said a move to ban patents "will preclude investment in potentially life-saving treatments."