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19 December 2014Americas

International Stem Cell Corporation welcomes CJEU embryo ruling

A US biotechnology company that was on the winning side of an EU court ruling surrounding the patentability of certain organisms has said it “clears the way” for patents in Europe.

Reacting to yesterday’ (December 18) judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCC) said it allows stem cell patents to be approved in Europe while maintaining that the patenting of human embryonic stem cells is not allowed.

The CJEU said an organism incapable of developing into a human does not constitute a human embryo and therefore uses of it can be patented. The court was considering the question following a referral from the English High Court.

It had to decide whether certain types of cells, called parthenotes, fall within the definition of “human embryos” under the Biotech Directive, which outlines the legal protection of biotechnological inventions in the EU.

ISCC brought the case after a dispute with the UK Intellectual Property Office and its comptroller general of patents, designs and trademarks after they refused to grant it two patents.

Andrey Semechkin, ISCC's chief executive, said: “ISCC now has the ability to obtain patent protection for its parthenogenetic stem cell technology in the EU, as it has already done in the US.”

He added: “A strong IP estate is important for investors and potential partners as we begin our upcoming clinical study                using human neural stem cells derived from parthenotes using the technology described in the patent applications.”

Adam Cooke, partner at law firm DLA Piper, which represented ISCC, added that the ruling was a triumph for the stem cell research industry.

“The regenerative medicine community will be delighted that the CJEU has clarified its position following its controversial decision three years ago in the Brüstle case," Cooke added.

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