Published online 2 July 2008 | Nature 454, 15 (2008) | doi:10.1038/454015a

News in Brief

Final decision expected on European stem-cell patent

The highest authority of the European Patent Office (EPO), the Enlarged Board of Appeal, will make a final decision within the next few weeks about whether human embryonic stem cells can be patented in Europe.

A public hearing at the EPO's headquarters in Munich, Germany, last week considered a 1996 patent application by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) that covered methods of cultivating primate embryonic stem cells, as well as the cell lines themselves. WARF appealed after its application was rejected in 2004. The EPO disallows any patenting on "uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes".

The board's decision will affect not only the Wisconsin patent, but at least 41 similar pending patents in Europe. 

Commenting is now closed.