Courtesy of University of Bonn

The German arm of the environmental lobby group Greenpeace is disputing a patent on the grounds that it allows the commercial exploitation of human stem cells. The group filed a notice of opposition against a patent granted to Oliver Brüstle, a researcher at the University of Bonn who was the first in Germany to receive a license to import human embryonic stem cells for research purposes. In May, the European Patent Office granted the patent, which covers a cell culture method related to a process for deriving neural cells from embryonic stem cells.

"Researchers do not need to file a patent," says Christoph Then, a stem cell expert with Greenpeace. "People who file a patent do so because they see business opportunities, but the commercial exploitation of human embryonic stem cells is banned." Greenpeace believes the outcome of the case could have major...

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