Bridging the gap between bioethics and patent law

PatentsinHumans is a five-year interdisciplinary project funded by a European Research Council (ERC) Starting grant led by Professor Aisling McMahon, School of Law and Criminology, Maynooth University.

This project aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the bioethical issues posed by patents, and how such patents are used, over technologies related to the human body. It will interrogate to what extent such bioethical issues are considered, if at all, within European patent decision-making for these technologies. Ultimately, the project aims to reimagine European patent decision-making to further embed bioethical considerations in patent grant and licensing systems for such technologies.

The five main types of patentable technologies related to the human body which will be examined during this project include:

Patentable technologies which treat the body

e.g. medicines, elements of vaccines etc

Patentable technologies which act on the body

e.g. elements of diagnostic tests

Patentable technologies that are in the body

e.g. isolated human genes

Patentable technologies that can be integrated with the body

e.g. elements of medical devices, prosthetics etc.

Patentable technologies that are akin to the human body or which can modify the body

e.g. neuro-technologies, gene editing techniques etc.

To learn more about the PatentsInHumans Project, please watch this short video from Principal Investigator, Professor Aisling McMahon.

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On the Commission's latest report on the pharmaceutical sector, see this blog I wrote with Tais Ruiz Palacios at @MedsLawPolicy @ellenthoen

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