Petri dish cells Umberto Salvagnin/Flickr

¿Patentar la inmaculada concepción?

HAARLEM – En 1899, el científico germano‑estadounidense Jacques Loeb logró la reproducción asexual de erizos de mar por medio de partenogénesis artificial (manipulación de óvulos para posibilitar el desarrollo del embrión sin fertilización). Sus especulaciones sobre la partenogénesis completa en mamíferos (además de que usó el término “inmaculada concepción” para describir el proceso) plantearon un dilema público: ¿deberían los científicos “jugar a ser Dios”?

Ahora que la International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCC) quiere patentar en Europa una tecnología de creación de líneas de células madre mediante la activación partenogenética de óvulos no fertilizados, es hora de responder esa pregunta. ¿Cómo hacerlo?

No es la primera vez que el patentamiento de células activadas partenogenéticamente plantea problemas. Estas células tienen semejanzas con los embriones humanos, que según la legislación de la Unión Europea, no se pueden patentar. Después de que en 2011 el Tribunal Europeo de Justicia (TEJ) determinó que esas células son embriones humanos, las solicitudes de patentes de células partenogenéticas en el Reino Unido y otros países han sido postergadas e incluso rechazadas. (La ISCC tiene patentes de células madre en Estados Unidos.)

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