Petri dish cells Umberto Salvagnin/Flickr

Breveter l’Immaculée Conception ?

HAARLEM – En 1899, le scientifique germano-américain Jacques Loeb a trouvé une méthode de reproduction asexuelle des oursins par parthénogenèse artificielle (la manipulation de cellules d’œufs permettant le développement embryonnaire sans fertilisation). Sa conjecture à propos d’une parthénogenèse complète chez les mammifères – sans mentionner son utilisation du terme « Immaculée Conception » pour décrire le procédé – ne pouvait que susciter l’inquiétude que le public éprouve normalement lorsqu’il se trouve devant un apprenti sorcier.

L’ISCC (International Stem Cell Corporation) cherchant à faire breveter en Europe une technologie qui produit des lignes de cellules souches par activation parthénogénétique d’un ovule non fertilisé, le temps est venu de répondre à cette question. La question est de savoir comment.

Les problèmes de la prise de brevet de cellules activées au moyen de la parthénogenèse ne sont pas nouveaux. Ces cellules qui ressemblent à des embryons humains ne sont pas brevetables en vertu de la Loi sur les brevets de l’Union européenne. À la suite d’une décision par la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne (CJUE) en 2011 voulant que ces cellules constituent des embryons humains, les demandes de brevet pour les cellules parthénogénétiques ont été retardées ou même refusées au Royaume-Uni et dans les autres pays. (L’ISCC détient des brevets pour ses cellules souches aux États-Unis.)

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