Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Europe's patent office hears genetic rodent appeal

The European Patent Office began hearing Monday an appeal against a patent issued for a genetically modified rodent that its inventors claim can be useful in cancer research.
The appeal against Harvard University's so-called Oncomouse patent, the first ever granted for a transgenic animal, was launched by six organisations from Austria, Britain, Germany and Switzerland.

Using the Oncomouse technique, scientists can alter a gene in the rodents and make them more likely to develop tumours, which means they can be used to test whether a material might contain carcinogens.

The six groups claim that the patent is "contrary to public order and morality" and that it does not meet some of the requirements of patent law.

The environmentalist group Greenpeace, which is not involved in the appeal, also staged a protest as the first day of the oral hearings got underway at EPO headquarters in Munich, southern Germany.

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