At the request of a coalition of non-profit groups, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is reexamining patents covering all primate embryonic stem cells, as well as stem-cell culturing techniques, held by the , which patents and licenses discoveries of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers. The groups challenging the patents argue that the methods for isolating a primate stem cell line were obvious based on previous work and therefore not patentable.A narrowing or invalidation of the patents could speed up research, many scientists say. Some researchers complain that the licensing process slows their work down, while others say it is prohibitively expensive. Jonathan Auerbach, president of GlobalStem, Inc., has not licensed rights to the technology from WARF and currently uses mouse embryonic stem cells and embryonal carcinoma cell lines, which he finds to be less expensive and more accessible. However, in the long run, he said he will have...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!