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Unfertilized ovum is not human embryo, European court rules in stem-cell case

December 18, 2014

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that a corporation can patent human stem cells, provided that they are not derived from an embryo that can develop into a human being.

The court made its ruling in a case brought by the California-based International Stem Cell Corporation. A law that prohibits the patenting of human embryos does not apply to a parthenogenetically activated ovum, the court ruled, because an unfertilized ovum cannot develop into a human being.

The California corporation had been denied patents in the United Kingdom, where the Intellectual Property Office ruled that the ova were capable of developing. But the European Court of Justice disagreed, saying that the development of an unfertilized ovum is not the same as that of a human embryo.


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  • Posted by: trini - Dec. 19, 2014 6:06 PM ET USA

    I would really like to know the official Roman Catholic view on this. Has any organisation of Catholic moralists and canonists and theologians and doctors, in the Vatican or elsewhere, issued an opinion? My layman's opinion so far is that the Church accepts stem cell research and cloning, but very definitely does not accept experimentation or cloning of fertilised embryos.