Keywords:patent, stem cells, ethics, European Commission, embryo
In the last two years, research into stem cells has raised extraordinary therapeutic hopes â€“ such as regenerative medicine â€“ but also strong ethical questions. These questions have been fuelled by announcements, from private companies in particular, of the possibilities for human cloning. One of these questions relates to the patentability of inventions resulting from this area of research. In Europe this question is linked to the general debate surrounding the patentability of biological materials, such as genomic sequences. Although a large number of applications have been filed these last years, a few patents have already been issued. Some of them have been opposed at the European Patent Office. At the request of the European Commission, the European Group on Ethics (EGE) has prepared an opinion on ethical aspects of patenting inventions resulting from human stem cell research.