The EU’s Group on Ethics has recommended that the Union should take “cautious approach” towards obtaining human embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes.
The European Group on Ethics opinion on the “Ethical aspects of patenting inventions involving human stem cells” addresses the ethical dilemma arising from the fact that patents can encourage scientific progress which can be used to the benefit of better healthcare but can also block access to health care due to patent fees.
The Group underlines that it is necessary to secure the right balance between the inventors interests and the society’s interest.
The Group states that only human stem cells which have been modified by an inventive process to get new characteristics for specific industrial application are patentable. The Group considers that cloning techniques aimed at obtaining human embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes should be excluded from patentability.
The report calls for the creation of an EU Registry of unmodified human stem cell lines that would include both embryonic stem cells and embryonic germ cells. The Registry would ensure transparency and facilitate access by the research community.