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Science 'Threatened'

Researchers in Europe are holding their collective breath as a European court tries to decide whether to ban patents on technologies that use human embryonic stem cells, says Veronique Greenwood at the 80beats blog. Scientists warn that if this ban is imposed and labs can no longer make money from their discoveries, regenerative medicine will not go further than the bench, she adds. Although the use of human embryonic stem cells has been limited in the US, Europe imposed fewer restrictions on the field, and researchers there have been able to make greater leaps forward. In March, however, the court's advocate general gave his opinion that the patents should be banned, saying they violate an EU law that prohibits the use of human embryos for commercial purposes, Greenwood says, adding that the court usually follows the advocate general's recommendations. Thirteen scientists from the Wellcome Trust published an appeal in Nature arguing that hESCs are cells lines and, as such, are derived from human embryos, but are not dependent on them for a supply of cells. Therefore, the appeal adds, patents based on hESCs do not violate the law.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.