Call for protest against IVF cell division patent

CAN you patent an aspect of human biology? That is the question some researchers are asking in a row over an IVF patent awarded to Stanford University.

The US patent was granted to Stanford University and Auxogyn, a fertility clinic in Menlo Park, California, and covers the timing of certain stages of early cell division in the embryo that predict future viability. Auxogyn is confident of being awarded a European patent, too.

Jacques Cohen of the ART Institute in Washington DC, which offers IVF to US military personnel, has called for “responsible reproductive specialists” to protest against the patent. “Researchers focused on embryo kinetics should ignore the time patents claimed by Stanford,” he writes in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online (doi.org/mnp).

“Patenting software is one thing, but trying to patent cell-cycle timings is something else altogether,” says Simon Fishel at the CARE Fertility clinic in Nottingham, …

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