05 Mar 2014 01:27

Research institutes applied for int'l patent on STAP-cell technology

Research institutes successful in producing stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells have applied for an international patent on the technology, it has been learned.

The Riken institute, the Brigham and Women's Hospital affiliated with Harvard University Medical School and Tokyo Women's Medical University jointly applied for a patent with U.S. authorities in April 2013 on a method of producing pluripotent cells by applying stimulus, Harvard associate professor Koji Kojima said.

The application names Haruko Obokata, 30, a unit leader at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology who led the project, as the inventor of the technology.

There has been keen competition for a patent on iPS cells. As such, experts anticipate fierce competition over STAP cells in terms of intellectual property rights.

In a related development, the government is set to designate Riken as a special incorporated national research institute, which aims to produce world-class scientific and technological achievements, following its success in producing STAP cells.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura made the announcement at a news conference following a regular Cabinet meeting on Jan. 31. The government will officially approve the plan at a meeting of concerned Cabinet ministers.

Under the system, an annual salary system will be introduced for Riken researchers, and top researchers from all over the world will be invited to conduct innovative research there. Specifically, the government intends to help Riken speed up its research on STAP cells.

Shimomura praised the latest achievement. "We highly hope that the success will lead to innovative regenerative medicine in the future."

The science minister also emphasized that the government will help create an environment in which young researchers and female scientists can actively conduct research. "We'd like to extend support so that a second and third Ms. Obokata will appear and that epoch-making research achievements will be made."

January 31, 2014(Mainichi Japan)