Issue Date: March 3, 2008
Stem Cell Patent Upheld
The Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) has upheld a key stem cell patent, according to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which holds the patent. WARF is a nonprofit organization that manages patents for the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The upheld patent was originally issued in 2001 and covers the development of a replicating in vitro culture of human embryonic stem cells. This patent and two other WARF patents that follow a different process for deriving cells cover all U.S.-based research with primate embryonic stem cell lines, including those derived from humans. All three patents are based on the work of UW Madison professor James A. Thomson. The technical merit of this set of patents has been called into question, prompting PTO to open a review of them in 2006. "We're extremely pleased with this decision," says Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of WARF. "It affirms what WARF has believed all along: Dr. Thomson's breakthrough discoveries are patentable inventions." PTO's decision about the validity of the other two patents is pending.
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