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Biotech Medicine Patents The Almighty Buck Science

Stem Cell Patent Halts Hospital's Collection 223

eldavojohn writes "It's a classic case that comes up when dealing with patents. A hospital's research on the donated brains of deceased children has been in limbo for three years because of a challenge from a patent holder. The double-edged sword of patents that spurred investment into the field will also cause chilling effects on research like the case of the Children's Hospital of Orange County. They've now been forced to shift the money from the lab to lawyers in order to deal with this ongoing patent dispute over a technique that was developed to extract stem cells at the Salk Institute. Unfortunately the Salk Institute failed to patent the technology, so a company named StemCells happily had it approved. The real disheartening news is that CHOC's Dr. Philip H. Schwartz — the doctor collecting the cells — was one of the original researchers who helped developed this technique at the Salk Institute. Now he can't even use the technique he helped create. Schwartz has since been instructed not to publicly discuss the case further. Research interests are clashing with commercial interests in a classic case that causes one to wonder if patents surrounding medical techniques like this stretch too far. As for the people that donated their dead child's brain to research, those valuable stem cell cultures have been kept in storage instead of being disseminated to research labs (which desperately need them) across the country."
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Stem Cell Patent Halts Hospital's Collection

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  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:33PM (#32325816)

    So you could say that the company StemCells
    ::puts on sunglasses::
    is causing division in this new industry?

  • by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:35PM (#32325840) Homepage Journal

    Dead child brains?

    Advanced medical research?

    Idea-stealing profiteers and soulless lawyers, deserving of comeuppance?

    I smell zombies!

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:36PM (#32325856)

    I know this is a serious topic, but... I... can't resist....


  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:38PM (#32325888) Homepage

    I was actually thinking that it's the sort of research that could go incredibly wrong after they realized that they used the brain of somebody named Abby Normal.

  • by Kreigaffe ( 765218 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:56PM (#32326174)

    Salk sells stem cells by the sea shore?

  • by Spazztastic ( 814296 ) <spazztastic&gmail,com> on Monday May 24, 2010 @02:00PM (#32326228)

    Dr. Frankenstein: [To Igor] Igor, may I speak to you for a moment?
    Igor: Of course.
    Dr. Frankenstein: Sit down, won't you?
    Igor: Thank you. [Igor sits on the floor]
    Dr. Frankenstein: No no, up here.
    Igor: Thank you. [Igor sits on a chair]
    Dr. Frankenstein: Now... that brain that you gave me... was it Hans Delbruck's?
    Igor: [Crosses arms] No.
    Dr. Frankenstein: [Holds up hand] Ah. Good. Uh... would you mind telling me... whose brain... I did put in?
    Igor: And you won't be angry?
    Dr. Frankenstein: I will not be angry.
    Igor: [Shrugs] Abby someone.
    Dr. Frankenstein: Abby someone? Abby who?
    Igor: Abby Normal.
    Dr. Frankenstein: [Slightly angry] Abby Normal?
    Igor: I'm almost sure that was the name. [He and Dr. Frankenstein laugh]
    Dr. Frankenstein: Are you saying... [Stands] that I put an abnormal brain... [Puts hand on Igor's hump] into a 7 and a half foot long... 54- inch wide... [Grabs Igor by throat] GORILLA?!?!?! [Strangling Igor] IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE TELLING ME!?!

  • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @02:07PM (#32326320)

    Let's just hope this phenomena of patents preventing stem-cell research becomes

    ::puts on sunglasses::



    Well, all you true cell biologists out there appreciated that. Understood it a least. Look, it at least sorta made sense. [] Don't judge me!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2010 @03:40PM (#32327608)

    How patently fair. The intellectual property laws are out there for everyone to see and play by, and the public has benefited from this.

    The process was apparently invented independently and simultaneously by two groups, only one of which (StemCells) filed a patent for it. If Schwartz had merely published his work first (or filed a patent for it first, which is tantamount to publishing), he could have blocked StemCell from obtaining a patent.

    Schwartz chose instead to keep his technology secret. He lost his bet that no one else would discover the same thing any time soon. Thanks to StemCell's patent application, everyone now knows about the technology, rather than just Schwartz. People worldwide can now build on that technology, either through licensing of it or by trying to find work-arounds.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Monday May 24, 2010 @08:13PM (#32330558) Homepage Journal

    Oh, yeah, because after choosing to kill a bunch of people (well, assholes, but still) really I would totally be stopped by the fact that my specific preferred gun type is outlawed in the area where killing must take place.

    Yes judge, I killed these 20 motherfuckers with an illegal weapon. I was going to kill them with a legal one, but decided to be an outlaw instead.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"