GENET archive


4-Patents: Britain grant human embryo cloning patent

-------------------------- GENET-news ---------------------------

TITLE:  Britain grants embryo cloning patent
SOURCE: The New York Times
DATE:   January 24, 2000

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Britain grants embryo cloning patent

Britain last week became the first country in the world to grant
a patent covering cloned early-stage human embryos. The decision
could ignite new controversy among biotechnology critics even
though the Geron Corporation, the company licensed to use the
patent, has no intention of creating cloned humans. The British
patent covers both the cloning process made famous by the
creation of Dolly, the cloned sheep, and some of the products of
that process.

Those products include nonhuman mammals and human embryos in th
very early stage of development, when they consist of stem cells
that could develop into any sort of human tissue. Geron, based in
Blacksburg, Va., hopes to use the technology to help those
suffering from degenerative diseases -- in theory, instead of
getting a liver transplant that might be rejected, a person could
be saved with new tissue grown from his or her own cells. Geron
and its technology partners have applied for United States
patents covering the technology, but that application does not
cover human embryo products, David J. Earp, Geron's vice
president for intellectual property, said. The Constitution's ban
on slavery bars patenting human clones, but the law is not clear
on the patentability of early-stage embryotic material.


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