Friday, November 16, 2007

Looking Behind the WARF Stem Cell Patent Challenge

The California scientist behind the challenge to the WARF stem cell patents says scientists have an obligation to be sure that research "can benefit the society that supports it."

Jeanne Loring, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, made the remark in a recent piece on "Nature Reports: Stem Cells."

Loring wrote about the history behind the challenge to the patents and her motivation. The piece also carries remarks from WARF.

Here are a couple of excerpts:
"We were surprised when WARF responded (to the challenge) with a press release saying, correctly, that I and the other scientists also have patents. This isn't relevant to the validity of the WARF patents, and seems to be an attempt to undermine our credibility. Our patents, like (Jamie) Thomson's, are assigned to companies or to our universities, and we have little control over how they are enforced. We are not challenging Thomson; we're challenging the patent owner, WARF."
Loring continued:
"I do not get paid for our work on this challenge. I did not set out to become an expert in patent law, and it is still very much outside my comfort zone. I'd rather be spending my time learning more about the molecular interactions that make human ES cells pluripotent. But the spirit of scientific inquiry often requires us to venture beyond our areas of expertise, and I think that scientists have an obligation not only to perform research but to make sure that our research can benefit the society that supports it."

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