Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Novocell Patents and Potential Profits

The latest developments involving Novocell, a San Diego, Ca., firm, and its stem cell patents are explored today in a piece by Terri Somers in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

She reported that the privately held firm "may have found new ways to make money from its technique for coaxing human embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing pancreatic cells." Somers recapped Novocell's patent picture and reported that the company announced on Tuesday that it "received a patent that essentially gives it control over all endoderm cells made from human embryonic stem cells."

She quoted Liz Bui, Novocell's director of intellectual property, as saying the firm hopes to collaborate with larger firms that have previously shied away from stem cell research.

Somers also noted the broad nature of the Novocell patent. She wrote:

"Many patents are for a method, or scientific process for making something, sort of like a high-tech recipe.

"The patent Novocell received is for composition, meaning it is not for how to make the endoderm cells, but the actual cells 'the product of the recipe.'"
She said that such patents have been controversial, citing the example of those held by Jamie Thomson of the University of Wisconsin. Some have argued that the patents on Thomson's work are so broad that they impede science.

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