The Niche

Fat patent stem cell wars

One way of knowing that a technology might have commercial applications is when the patent wars start. This week BioCentury reports that a North Carolina company called Artecel just won an exclusive right to a composition-of-matter patent covering stem cells derived from adipose tissue. According to some reports, stem cells in fat appear to be capable of differentiating into other tissue types. Cytori, a California-based stem cell company that no longer has rights to the patent, was developing the cells for heart disease and reconstructive surgeries. Artecel is less specific about its goals, saying the cells will be used for “soft tissue and cosmetics applications.”

At issue was whether University of California, Los Angeles scientists who had licensed their technology to Cytori had a right to the patent. In 2004, University of PIttsburgh, who had licensed the technology to Artecel, filed a suit to remove the UCLA scientists from the patent. Earlier this month, a United States district court in California ruled in their favor.

Here is the press release from Artecel. In Cytori’s press release, the company said that the decision did not affect its ongoing business practices because the device that enriches collected samples for stem cells for reinjection is still patented. The decision might affect their product pipeline, though.


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