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Court of Justice of the EU bans patents of stem cells - Brustle v Greenpeace (Case C-34/10)

The use of human stem cells in research is a controversial issue for many reasons. Not only because they are usually sourced from human embryo's , but also because they can develop into any cell of the human body. However, because of the potential of stem cells in medicine and research, in developing cures for medical conditions ranging from blindness to degenerative disorders (for example Schizophrenia) there continues to be interest in Patenting inventions from such research.

The Court of Justice of the European Union recently handed down a judgement that bans patents of stem cells when such cells causes the destruction of a human embryo.

The ruling has considerable repercussions on both medical research, and companies that currently hold relevant Patents stemming from Stem cells.

The Court addressed the issue after a German scientist was denied a patent on a method to create nerve cells from human embryonic stem cells.

Scientists warned that the ruling would damage stem cell research in Europe, while Catholic bishops hailed it as a victory for the protection of human life.

EU law, the court said, intended to "exclude any possibility of patentability where respect for human dignity could thereby be affected".

More details can be found here.