Bloomberg News

International Stem Cell Should Win EU Case, Adviser Says

July 17, 2014

International Stem Cell Corp. (ISCO:US) should win a court case that may pave the way for a U.K. patent for a procedure to extract stem cells, according to an adviser to the European Union’s top court.

The EU’s Court of Justice should rule that Carlsbad California-based International Stem Cell’s process based on unfertilized human eggs shouldn’t be considered a human embryo - - excluding it from an EU ban on patents for such stem-cell research, Advocate General Pedro Cruz Villalon said in a recommendation published today.

The cells concerned, known as parthenotes, “can only be excluded from the concept of embryos to the extent that they have not been genetically manipulated to become capable of developing into a human being,” the court said in a statement. EU law doesn’t prevent EU states from banning patents for the cells on ethical or moral grounds.

While the court adviser’s opinion isn’t binding, it is usually followed by the Luxembourg-based tribunal. The EU court ruled three years ago that stem-cell research involving human embryos couldn’t be patented, a decision that scientists called “devastating” for medical research in Europe.

The court aide’s opinion “is a triumph for science and rational thinking” and, if confirmed by the final ruling, may open up the use of such stem cells in the EU, said Simon Craw, a spokesman for International Stem Cell.

The U.K. high court is asking the Luxembourg tribunal whether it has to classify the unfertilized ova as a human embryo. Under an EU law from 1998, research methods that involve human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes can’t be patented.

The case is C-364/13 International Stem Cell Corporation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net Peter Chapman, Phil Serafino


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