Following President Bush's announcement last week that a limited amount of stem cell research can take place in the US, a dispute has broken out between a patent agency and a California company involved in such research. The dispute is about future access to stem cell lines.
A lawsuit was launched earlier in the week against the Geron Corporation, which is being sued by the patent agency of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). WARF is seeking to stop Geron from attempting to limit the Foundation's ability to work with other stem cell researchers.
Geron funded the original pioneering work on stem cells undertaken by James Thomson at the University of Wisconsin. Thomson has developed five stem cell lines from original embryos, all of which are patented. Geron was licensed by WARF to develop six cell types from these stem cell lines, and had an option to negotiate licenses for other cell types: this option ran out at the end of July, but Geron maintains that it still has rights under the option.
WARF's action was taken as it feared Geron would take court action to stop it working with other companies to develop additional cell types. John Wiley, Chancellor of the Wisconsin University said 'this action will ensure that future research is conducted in the public interest by preserving the broadest access to these original stem cell lines'.
Sources and References
Geron sued by researchers over stem cell rights
UW sues Geron over stem cell deal