Scientists are not allowed to patent stem cell application work which involves the destruction of human embryos after a landmark ruling in October.
Many welcomed the ruling, with one bioethics group saying it was a “triumph of ethical standards over commercial interest”.
The decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) means scientists may be encouraged to direct their attention towards adult stem cell application.
Adult stem cell application does not involve the destruction of human embryos and has already been used in more than 100 treatments or clinical trials.
The ECJ also examined the concept of the human embryo and said that it “must be understood in a wide sense”.
The case was started in Germany by Greenpeace. The charity welcomed the decision, saying the court had “strengthened the protection of human life against commercial interests within the EU”.
A blog on the Greenpeace website commented: “Greenpeace is against the patenting of human life. Greenpeace is not anti-stem cell research.”
The decision is a blow to supporters of embryonic stem cell application research. Prof Austin Smith, of a stem cell research group at the University of Cambridge described the Court’s decision as “unfortunate”.
Dominica Roberts however, who is Chairman of the ProLife Alliance, said the group was “delighted” at the court ruling.
She said: “Perhaps this will encourage scientists to divert their efforts to seeking more cures with adult stem cells. Use of adult stem cells is not only entirely ethical but has so far proved much more effective.”
Stem cell application at Angeles hospital in Mexico uses adult stem cells only. We treat a number of conditions which you can learn more about by filling in the form on the right.