Patent office frees embryonic stem cell technology

The U.S. patent office has decided to reject three existing patents on embryonic stem cell lines held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The patents were challenged by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which said that the work done by Wisconsin researcher James Thomson in isolating the stem cell lines was made obvious by previous scientific research. In order to win a patent, research has to be original and "non-obvious." The decision was heralded as a win for scientists in the field--who would gain free access to the technology--and a loss for Geron, which has an exclusive licensing deal on some of the stem cell technology at stake. The decision is being appealed and a final ruling will come later.

- read the report from the Milwaukee Business Journal

ALSO: Scientists in the U.K. have used stem cells harvested from bone marrow to create heart valve tissue. Report