What are the government doing to look at the impact of this ban on patenting embryo stem cells?

Posted on October 25, 2011 by


Graham Stringer is planning to ask Vince Cable what he is doing to look at the impact of Europe’s decision last week to ban the patenting of embryo stem cells (check out my previous blog for background on the ban) when he comes into parliament for Business, Innovation and Skills questions on Thursday.

Graham has question 15 – which may or may not be reached in the time allocated for questions, depending how long the discussion on the ones before:

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton):  What steps he plans to take to protect stem cell research in the UK following the decision of the European Court of Justice to prohibit the patenting of inventions based on human stem cells; and if he will make a statement.


The European Court of Justice made a decision last week which effectively bans the patenting of scientific techniques involving embryonic stem cells, even if the technique itself does not directly destroy an embryo but at some stage in the process has involved the use of an embryo.

This has no effect on us doing research using embryos or cells derived from embryos in the UK – this is still allowed, strictly regulated through UK law. But there is ongoing discussion over the impact this decision will have on investment in stem cell research in the UK. Patenting new techniques is how money is made from discoveries and many funders won’t be attracted to invest if they can’t make money out of their investment.

However, there have also been suggestions that the effect on research in the UK could be the opposite, that this may actually free up researchers from concerns about infringing intellectual property and give them more freedom to do research.

Government bodies including the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) are looking into the implications of the ruling at the moment. UKIPO gives out advice on patenting so will be developing this at the moment..


Posted in: Policy