stem cells

Swedish cell patents ruled illegal

The European Court of Justice has decided not to allow patents from research involving destroying human embyos. Sweden is one of the few places in Europe where such stem-cell research is carried out, along with the UK and Germany.

The court declared that "A process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented." A blastocyst embryo has not yet been embedded in the womb, but has begun to divide into many cells.

Reuters reports that the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca is one of the firms that may have to face the end of profitable research into embryonic stem cells.