Profitable exchanges for scientists: the case of Swedish human embryonic stem cell research
Health Care Analysis: An International Journal of Health Philosophy and Policy 2007 December; 15(4): 291-304
In this article two inter-related issues concerning the ongoing commercialisation of biomedical research are analyzed. One aim is to explain how scientists and clinicians at Swedish public institutions can make profits, both commercially and scientifically, by controlling rare human biological material, like embryos and embryonic stem cell lines. This control in no way presupposes legal ownership or other property rights as an initial condition. We show how ethically sensitive material (embryos and stem cell lines) have been used in Sweden as a foundation for a commercial stem cell enterprise--despite all official Swedish strictures against commercialisation in this area. We also show how political decisions may amplify the value of controlling this kind of biological material. Another aim of the article is to analyze and discuss the meaning of this kind of academic commercial enterprise in a wider context of research funding strategies. A conclusion that is drawn is that the academic turn to commercial funding sources is dependent on the decline of public funding.
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