• Pharma patents 'are stifling stem cell research'
    Stem cell research is suffering from pharma patent proliferation, it is claimed


Pharma patents 'are stifling stem cell research'

Feb 17 2011

Research into stem cell technologies is being stifled by the proliferation of pharma patents in the field, it is claimed.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions claim that allowing pharma developers to privatise stem cell lines and related data is damaging to innovation as a whole.

"Pervasive taking of intellectual property rights has resulted in a complex and confusing patchwork of ownership and control in the field of stem cell science," says bioethicist Dr Debra Mathews, assistant director for science programmes at the Berman Institute.

She adds that the pharma industry must strike a balance between transparency of research outcomes and the incentive provided by the right to patent intellectual property relating to discoveries.

Without proper management of this process, she warns that the concept of what counts as 'in the public domain' could become difficult to define.

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions bring together scientists from a broad health system valued at around $5 billion (£3 billion) to allow physicians and researchers to collaborate with one another.

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