NIH to Meet With Patent-Holders of Stem Cell Lines
NIH officials today are scheduled to discuss patent, licensing, and "material transfer" issues with the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and private companies that have developed and patented embryonic stem cell lines approved for publicly funded research, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Skiba, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/20). WARF maintains a patent on stem cell isolation and the cells themselves, "apparently the only one of its kind in the world," according to the New York Times. The patent grants the foundation control over who may work with the cells in the United States and for what purpose (Stolberg, New York Times, 8/17). WARF had granted commercial rights on six cell lines to the California biotech firm Geron Corp., but the foundation last week filed suit against Geron to block the company's efforts to extend these rights to 12 more cell types (California Healthline, 8/17). WARF Managing Director Carl Gulbrandsen and general counsel Beth Donley have stated that the foundation will work to "make sure these cell lines are widely available and that any new discoveries that emerge from them not be impeded" by patent issues (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/20).