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Stem Cell Patent Decision Prompts Questions in Parliament

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BlastocystQuestions have been asked of Prime Minister David Cameron concerning the British Government’s position in relation to Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) decision in the Brüstle v Greenpeace case. It seems IPCopy’s earlier posting on this matter reflects the concerns of many with interests in the future of regenerative medicine that such EU-wide decisions are profoundly damaging, especially when they undermine the decision of a member state to fund such research with taxpayers’ money.

The question was raised by Hon. John Baron MP on 9 January 2013 during Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons. The transcript of the exchange is below:

John Baron MP (Basildon and Billericay, Conservative)
The Prime Minister will remember that this House gave the green light to stem cell research some years ago, but we now find that the EU Court of Justice is hindering progress by bringing into question the validity of the patents protecting research. On behalf of the millions of people in this country who suffer from long-term medical conditions, will the Prime Minister do what he can to clear this blockage?
Rt. Hon. David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative)
My hon. Friend makes an extremely serious point. I will look closely at it, because I think this country has a competitive advantage from our having taken difficult decisions about stem cell research. It is important that we continue to lead in that area—not only, as my hon. Friend says, for economic and scientific reasons, but because we want to make sure that for people with long-term and debilitating conditions, for children with disabilities and other concerns, we crack those problems for the future. Without that level of research, I do not believe that we shall. I will look very carefully at what my hon. Friend has said and I will write to him with an answer.

 Hansard (Citation: HC Deb, 9 January 2013, c314)

The question of course is what can the Government do to clear the perceived blockage? In reality, the supremacy of the CJEU decision over the law of the United Kingdom suggests that probably very little can be done after the event. Going forward scientific advances in the production of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and non-destructive harvesting of embryonic stem cells from human embryos may temper the practical effects of the CJEU decision somewhat. However, that is little comfort for the researchers who have invested in developing human embryonic stem cell based therapies over the last decade and whose patents are potentially invalidated as a result of the Brüstle decision.

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