Advertisement

Patenting of Human Stem Cell-Based Inventions: Can There be Technological Solutions to a Moral Dilemma?

  • Aliki Nichogiannopoulou
Chapter
Part of the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine book series (STEMCELL)

Abstract

Patents are a means of securing returns – if any – from one’s intellectual property. In the evolving intellectual property landscape it has become increasingly clear that biotechnology is not just another field of technology. Especially the field of stem cell biotechnology, as a prime example of translational research, has been pressing this very point. Legislation evolves at a slower pace than the emergence of new technologies in this field, rendering the task of keeping abreast equally challenging for legislators, scientists, innovators and the lay public. The fact that a human embryo is the primordial source of human embryonic stem cells, renders the ethical, legal, philosophical and scientific evaluation of the framework within which we manoeuvre, full of challenges. Given the political consequences of such considerations, the scientific community has attempted to overcome some of the points raised by technical innovations that have themselves become the subject of patent applications. The European Patent Office – the patent granting authority for Europe with a mission to support innovation, competitiveness and economic growth for the benefit of the citizens of Europe – is faced with the challenge of deciding which of these overcome the issues and which do not. Several questions remain unanswered while technology advances posing new ones. The debate is ongoing, as is the synergy between science and society in the quest for universally ethical or ethically universal human embryonic stem cells.

Keywords

Stem cells Patents European Patent Office Moral dilemma Case law 

References

  1. 1.
    Summons to oral proceedings by the Enlarged Board of Appeal pursuant to Rule 115(1) EPC regarding case number G02/06.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of July 6, 1998, on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions. OJL 213/13 of 30.07.98.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Official Journal (OJ) EPO 1999, 437 ff.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Thomson JA, Itskovitz-Eldor J, Shapiro SS, Waknitz MA, Swiergiel JJ, Marshall VS et al. Embryonic stem cell lines derived from human blastocysts. Science 1998; 282:1145–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    G 2/06, 25 November 2008.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wilmut I, Schnieke AE, McWhir J, Kind AJ, Campbell KH. Viable offspring derived from fetal and adult mammalian cells, Nature 1997; 385:810–3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Findlay JK, Gear ML, Illingworth PJ, Junk SM, Kay G, Mackerras AH, Pope A, Rothenfluh HS, Wilton L. Human embryo: a biological definition. Hum Reprod 2007; 22:905–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gesetz zum Schutz von Embryonen (EschG) vom 13. December 1990 (BGBl. I S. 2746, altered by Article 22 of the Act of 23 October 2001 (BGBl. I S. 2702).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (1990). Human Fertilisation and Embryo­logy Act.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Interlocutory Decision of Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.08 dated 7 April 2006, 2007 Official Journal (OJ) EPO 313.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    European patent application EP1516925.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Malter HE, Cohen J. Embryonic development after microsurgical repair of polyspermic human zygotes. Fertil Steril 1989; 52:373–80.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kattera S, Chen C. Normal birth after microsurgical enucleation of tripronuclear human zygotes: case report. Hum Reprod 2003; 18:1319–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Zhang X, Stojkovic P, Przyborski S, Cooke M, Armstrong L, Lako M et al. Derivation of human embryonic stem cells from developing and arrested embryos. Stem Cells 2006; 24:2669–76.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Alikani M, Willadsen SM. Human blastocysts from aggregated mononucleated cells of two or more non-viable zygote-derived embryos. Reprod Bio Med 2002; 5:56–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Landry DW, Zucker HA. Embryonic death and the creation of human embryonic stem cells J Clin Invest 2004; 114:1184–6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) of 1981. [online] http://www.law.upenn.edu/bll/archives/ulc/fnact99/1980s/udda80.pdf
  18. 18.
    Meissner A, Jaenisch R. Generation of nuclear transfer-derived pluripotent ES cells from cloned Cdx2-deficient blastocysts. Nature 2006; 439:212–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    White paper: Alternative Sources of Pluripotent Stem Cells. The President’s Council on Bioethics. [online] http://bioethicsprint.bioethics.gov/reports/white_paper/index.html
  20. 20.
    Hurlbut WB. Altered nuclear transfer as a morally acceptable means for the procurement of human embryonic stem cells. Commissioned working paper for the President’s Council on Bioethics December 2004 meeting. [online] http://www.bioethics.gov/background/hurlbut.html
  21. 21.
    United Nations, Declaration on Human Cloning. August 3, 2005. [online] http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/ga10333.doc.htm
  22. 22.
    Cibelli JB, Grant KA, Chapman KB, Cunniff K, Worst T, Green HL et al. Parthenogenetic stem cells in nonhuman primates. Science 2002; 295:819.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Brevini TAL, Gandolfi F. Parthenotes as a source of embryonic stem cells. Cell Prolif 2008; 41 (Suppl 1):20–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kim K, Lerou P, Yabuuchi A, Lengerke C, Ng K, West J et al. Histocompatible embryonic stem cells by parthenogenesis. Science 2007; 315:482–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kono T, Obata Y, Wu Q, Niwa K, Ono Y, Yamamoto Y et al. Birth of parthenogenetic mice that can develop to adulthood. Nature 2004; 428:860–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Vrana KE, Hipp JD, Goss AM, McCool BA, Riddle DR, Walker SJ et al. Nonhuman primate parthenogenetic stem cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2003; 100(Suppl 1):11911–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Kiessling A. In the stem-cell debate, new concepts need new words. Nature 2001; 413:453.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Chung Y, Klimanskaya I, Becker S, Marh J, Lu SJ, Johnson J et al. Embryonic and extraembryonic stem cell lines derived from single mouse blastomeres. Nature 2006; 439:216–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Klimanskaya I, Chung Y, Becker S, Lu SJ, Lanza R. Human embryonic stem cell lines derived from single blastomeres. Nature 2006; 444:481–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
  31. 31.
    Green R. Can we develop ethically universal embryonic stem-cell lines? Nature 2007; 8:480–5.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aliki Nichogiannopoulou
    • 1
  1. 1.European Patent OfficeMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations