The European Court of Justice in Luxemburg ruled on October 18, 2011 in a landmark decision in the case C-34/10 Oliver Bruestle v Greenpeace e.V. and barred embryonic stem cell patents in Europe.
In its ruling, the Court said that “a process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented. The use of human embryos for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes which are applied to the human embryo and are useful to it is patentable, but their use for purposes of scientific research is not patentable.”
Professor Bruestle, a German neurology professor and one of the leading stem cell research pioneers, is the holder of the disputed German patent. The patent, filed on December 19th 1997, concerns isolated and purified neural precursor cells, methods for the production of such neural precursor cells from embryonic stem cells, and the use of such neural precursor cells for the treatment of neural defects such as Parkinson or Alzheimer. The patent seeks to resolve the technical problem of using embryonic stem cells to produce an almost unlimited quantity of isolated and purified precursor cells having neural or glial properties. Professor Brustle’s patent was issued in Germany as DE 19756864 in 1999. Continue reading