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Sat May 25, 2013, 08:27 PM

Leading scientist attacks university over 'outrageous' IVF treatment patent

A fresh international row has erupted over granting US patents to processes which many scientists believe are basic aspects of human physiology.

Jacques Cohen, one of the world's leading embryologists, has attacked Stanford University and the biotechnology company Auxogyn over their "outrageous" request to be given a patent on cell-cycle data being used to develop IVF treatments. This has now been granted by the US patent office.

The decision could make treatments prohibitively expensive, warned Cohen, who has called for "responsible scientists" to campaign against the decision. Fertility experts are infuriated because they believe the patent covers a naturally occurring phenomenon: the duration of the first three cell cycles in a human embryo.

"Nature should not be owned by anyone," said Cohen, an embryologist based at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in Washington. In the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, he states: "Claiming aspects of natural processes in embryos as property is an outrageous attempt to over-commercialise every step of an already expensive medical procedure."


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