U.S. invalidates three human stem cell patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated three broad patents for human embryonic stem cells that have been blamed for slowing research in the highly visible field of regenerative medicine.

The office ruled the discovery of embryonic stem cells from primates — including humans — was not worthy of patent protection because scientists had used similar methods to isolate embryonic stem cells from mice and other mammals, and described the cells’ potential for producing medical therapies.

The patents have been a serious problem for stem cell scientists, who have been worried about the costs and restrictions imposed by the patent holder, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, or WARF.

Some U.S. companies moved their research operations overseas, where the patents are not in force, after failing to strike a licensing deal with the Madison-based foundation, which manages the university’s intellectual property.

More info:  Los Angeles Times article

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