Stem cells can be patented for commercial use – EU

18 Dec 2014

The European Union’s (EU) Court of Justice (ECJ) has raised a few eyebrows after it ruled stem cells used for the development of medical treatments can now be patented for commercial use.

The case which gave the go-ahead for stem cell commercialisation was brought forward by the International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO) against the UK Intellectual Property Office after the latter refused to issue them two patents that would allow them to develop research using stem cells.

According to, the British office had defended their rejection because they claimed that the eggs used by the ISCO from which the stem cells originated were in an active state and capable of developing into human embryos, which would go against the EU’s laws.

However, the ISCO refuted the claim that it would be illegal because the egg was fertilised using a chemical-based process known as parthenogenesis which effectively rules out the possibility of the eggs being capable of becoming a human being because of the removal of a portion of its DNA.

This process was introduced following the ethical challenges that were presented with researchers using eggs that saw human embryos being discarded following the harvesting of stem cells in the science’s early stages of testing.

Under the new ruling, industrial and commercial operations within the EU will be allowed to continue their involvement and use of this research for commercial operations within stem cell research which is conducting research on multiple health issues from digestive disorders to restoring a person’s vision.

As a company, the ISCO was recently ranked as one of the US’s fastest growing companies by Deloitte with a growth rate of 448pc in the space of a year.

Artificial insemination image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic