Thursday 26 December 2013

Embryonic stem cell research: ALLEA calls for patent protection, increased funding

The European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, ALLEA, has made a clarion call for greater funding for patentability and research funding relating to embryonic stem cells.  According to its statement, reproduced in relevant part below:
"With its third statement on “Patentability and Research Funding relating to embryonic Stem Cells”, ALLEA follows up on two previous statements regarding this issue – released in May 2011 and September 2012 respectively – both closely linked to the case Brüstle v Greenpeace and the corresponding Judgment of the Court of European Union (CJEU) [noted on the IPKat here]. 
The statement, prepared by the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights under the chairmanship of Professor Joseph Straus, raises concerns against a possible acceptance of the above mentioned Judgment which would most seriously affect research of essential importance to citizens of the European Union. Therefore, the competent bodies of the European Union are urged “not to accept the proposed amendments and to continue the well balanced funding of the respective research at the Union level”. It is furthermore argued that basic research in this field would need more EU funding rather than less.

In its previous statements, ALLEA had explicitly underlined that a lack of patent protection in the area of embryonic stem cell research could negatively affect the investment in developing therapeutics based on human pluripotent embryonic stem cells. It was also stated that serious concerns of the European scientific community regarding the effects for research in this important area of medicine would need to be taken into account. ..."
ALLEA's previous statements, background documents and further information on this topic can be downloaded hereThe full text of this statement can be downloaded here.

ALLEA's credentials are impeccable and its arguments well-founded, but that is no guarantee that its voice will be heeded by a Europe in which decision-makers are frequently caught in the cross-fire of conflicting lobbying, strident campaigning and potent sound-bites.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When the Biotech Directive was debated and passed embryo stem cell technology did not really exist, and so the prohibition to patenting inventions concerned with human embryos may no longer be sensible. The European Parliament might have decided that differently today, and I think we should seriously think about that. As I understand it the Biotech Directive did set up an ethics committee which could consider new situations, and perhaps that should now redecide on patentability of human embryo inventions.