EU stem cell patent ban


The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday 18 October 2011 that researchers are banned from patenting procedures to extract stem cells from human embryos. The decison rose from the case whereby a patent by German scientist Bruestle was challenged by Greenpeace. Bruestle developed a technique whereby nerve cells were created from human embryonic stem cells, which could serve to tread for instance patients with Parkinson disease. The Court ruled that "A process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented."  The Court furthermore broadly defined the term "human embryo", stating that a human egg is to be considered an embryo  from the point of fertilisation on. While scientists warned that the ruling would damage stem cell research in Europe, Catholic bishops hailed it as a victory for the protection of human life. A ruling which causes mixed feelings indeed.




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