Recent Developments in the 'Stem Cell Century': Implications for Embryo Research, Egg Donor Compensation, and Stem Cell Patents
27 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2008 Last revised: 6 Nov 2012
Last fall, I published the book Stem Cell Century: Law and Policy for a Breakthrough Technology, which analyzes a range of complicated legal issues that arise from stem cell technology: from the regulation of embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning, to whether intellectual property rights in stem cells should be granted and, if so, who should profit, to whether we should permit tissues needed for important biomedical research to be bought and sold, to how the FDA and the tort system should regulate stem cell-based treatments likely to be developed in the future. In this field, neither science nor law stand still for long. This article discusses and analyzes three important developments that have taken place in the six months since Stem Cell Century's publication: the development by research of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that behave like embryonic stem cells but are not created by destroying embryos; the creation of cloned blastocysts by a California biotech company; and three decisions by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office upholding the validity of patents on embryonic stem cell lines in a reexamination procceding. These developments have important implications for three policy disputes concerning stem cell research: the appropriateness of embryo research, whether compensation of egg donors should be permitted, and whether human embryonic stem cell lines ought to be patentable.
Keywords: stem cells, cloning, patents, embryos, egg donation, patents, nonobviousness, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Public Patent Foundation, Stemagen
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