Science in Society Archive

Biopatents

Pig-Human Patent Contrary to Morality

An Australian firm, Stem Cell Sciences and US-based Bio-Transplant Inc have created pig-human hybrid cells during research on stem cell therapies. They extracted DNA from human foetal cells and injected them into empty pig egg cells, which grew to the 32 cell stage. They have applied to the European Patent Office to patent the procedure, claiming the cells were incapable of growing into a human being. But the EU PTO thankfully rejected the application, describing it as 'contrary to morality'.

Meanwhile, the Dutch govern-ment is proposing to ban all research into therapeutic cloning for at least three years. Current legislation forbids the creation of human embryos for research but scientists are allowed to work on embryos left over from fertility treatment, accord-ing to a recent report in the British Medical Journal. The bill being considered will prohibit cloning, sex selection, and germ-line gene therapy.

Sources: Reuters 6/10/2000The Times 8/10/2000 Cloning teams cross pig and human DNA; The BMJ 7/10/2000 Netherlands bans cloning of embryos for research.


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