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Rising Issues Relating to Balancing Public Access with Patentability in the Field of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in India

12 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2013 Last revised: 26 Feb 2014

Rishika Arora

Amity Law School

Date Written: October 21, 2013


New technology brings with it new openings and avenues for development and progress. Thus, providing the human race a step forward towards leading a life better than before. Not just socially, technology is also used by the Nations to establish their economic relations globally. Stem cell research being one such advancement in the biomedical field, that brings within its scope the social sciences involved in establishing the research; along with a need towards maintaining a political balance and leading towards global economic development. Human Embryonic Stem Cell research has become the new domain of research and development in biomedical science. But with the new technology and advancement comes its own issues and problems, that require to be dealt with and a path needs to be paved for better tomorrow.

Human Embryonic Stem Cells are characterized by great potential and flexibility to renew and regenerate into new cells. These cells can renew and regenerate into new specialized cells, while maintaining their original undifferentiated state. The research holds great promise for better cure and treatment of several diseases that are yet incurable; diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer. But due to the derivation of these cells from an embryo of 5-7 days, it gives rise to several ethical and moral issues. This in turn creates challenges for regulatory bodies, policy makers and scientists as they try to establish their way through a tangled web of regulations.

In the middle of the ongoing debate relating to legality of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research emerges the question of patentability expected to arise in the near future. Once, the research has been proved and established the question as to who will own this medical breakthrough is expected to rise. The paper tries to establish the patentability trend expected to rise in the future in India, relating to Stem Cell Research based on the present laws and the recent Novartis AG v. Union of India Judgment.

Patentability gives rise to question relating to funding of the research. Funding being the source of investment for research and development majorly affects the right of patentability. The paper tries to evaluate the pros and cons of the State owned and private funding, and how it affects the patent rights.

At present there are no codified laws relating to stem cell research and development in India. With only draft guidelines introduced by the Indian Council of Medical Research, a non-bindery regulatory framework; the question of patentability still remains unanswered. The aim of the paper shall lie in establishing a test that shall balance the present laws of patentability and issues expected to rise in the future relating to patentability of Stem Cell Research as against social stability and accessibility, at the same time raising a question with regard to availability of this technique and it’s importance towards public health and benefit.

Keywords: Funding, Novartis AG v Union of India, Patentability, Public accessibility, Stem Cell Research.

Suggested Citation

Arora, Rishika, Rising Issues Relating to Balancing Public Access with Patentability in the Field of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in India (October 21, 2013). OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 06, No. 01, pp. 65-76, 2013. Available at SSRN:

Rishika Arora (Contact Author)

Amity Law School ( email )

F-1 Block, Sector 125
Noida, 201303

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