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San Diego Scientist’s Stem Cell Patent Challenge Stalls At Supreme Court

This week, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging a controversial stem cell patent, bringing one San Diego researcher's nine-year legal battle to an end.

Photo by The Scripps Research Institute

Jeanne Loring pictured in her lab at The Scripps Research Institute in this undated photo.

After nine years, a legal battle on the merits of patenting stem cells has come to an end.

Jeanne Loring studies stem cells at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. Since 2006, she's also been working with Consumer Watchdog to overturn a patent on human embryonic stem cells held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Scientists working with these kinds of cells pay licensing fees to the foundation. Loring said the patent stifles research and development, and should be revoked because it covers naturally occurring material.

"This is an example of an extremely broad patent," Loring said. "You can't patent air. You can't patent water. And you shouldn't be able to patent embryonic stem cells. Because all of those are products of nature."

The foundation could not be reached for comment.

In 2013, the Supreme Court used that logic to overturn a patent on a gene associated with breast cancer. In declining to hear this case, the Supreme Court has allowed the stem cell patent to stand.


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