Printer Friendly

Private parts = private property?

Private parts = private property?

In a hotly disputed decision that some say threatens a cornerstone of biotechnological research, a California state court of appeal last week ruled a person may retain property rights to tissues and cells removed during surgery and subsequently used in scientific research. The case was brought by John Moore, a cured leukemia patient whose spleen was removed in 1976 by physicians at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center.

According to UCLA physician and defendant David W. Golde, the surgery "saved Moore's life." What Moore didn't know until later, however, is that the university also saved part of his spleen. Cells from the grossly enlarged organ were grown in culture and found to produce substances with potentially therapeutic properties -- including a white-blood-cell-stimulating substance now known as granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), which researchers say may prove useful against cancer of AIDS. The university obtained a patent on the cell line and its products. Later, Moore claims, Golde and the university profited from his cells through an arrangement with Genetics Institute, Inc., a biotechnology company in Cambridge, Mass., that may someday develop a drug from the cell line. Moore seeks a percentage of any commercial profits from the cell line or patent.

Last week's ruling, which the university says it will appeal to the California Supreme Court, suggests researchers may have to become more businesslike in the way they obtain the living specimens used in their work. Researchers rely largely upon surplus blood specimens and cells "discarded" after surgery to do the basic studies that have spawned a revolution in biomedical research.

But while scientists and some bioethicists lambast the ruling, saying it will stifle new research, raise the cost of biotechnological progress and destroy the "gift ethic" that has characterized organ and tissue donations, others say the decision may have little impact, in part because very few people have truly rare cells. "The worst that will happen is that researchers will add a new line to the consent form, which will say you give up all your rights to anything that is developed from your blood or your urine or whatever," predicts George Annas, a bioethicist at Boston University.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:John Moore case
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 30, 1988
Words:365
Previous Article:Plentiful plankton noticed at last.
Next Article:Nature douses dilution experiment.
Topics:


Related Articles
Last call for entries ....
Maynard Keynes: An Economist's Biography.
Making the Commons Work: Theory, Practice, and Policy.
Keynes's Philosophical Development.
HEARING STARTS IN FATAL ROBBERIES\Proceeding will decide if pair must stand trial in 1993 killings.
HEARING STARTS IN FATAL ROBBERIES PROCEEDING WILL DECIDE IF PAIR MUST STAND TRIAL IN 1993 KILLINGS.
ART FUNDING PANEL IN T.O. FILLS TOP JOB.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters