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The University of Wisconsin’s patent agency has broadened its lawsuit against a company that wants to use the school’s human embryonic stem cell lines. Negotiations to reach a settlement with Geron Corp. had broken down, said Andrew Cohn, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The foundation’s original federal court lawsuit in August sought to prevent Geron, of Menlo Park, Calif., from interfering with the foundation’s ability to contract with other companies to further develop stem cell technology. On Monday, it filed an amended lawsuit asking the court to declare that Geron has no exclusive rights to research products except in those cases in which the company added its own proprietary, patented technology, the foundation said. Human embryonic stem cells were first isolated and grown at UW by scientist James Thomson in 1998. Geron, which financed much of the early research, wants exclusive rights to any research products developed using the stem cells, said Carl Gulbrandsen, the foundation’s managing director. The foundation thinks that goes against its licensing agreement with Geron. A spokeswoman for Geron said the company would not comment on the latest legal action. Embryonic stem cell lines, each descended from a single embryo, have the ability to divide into an infinite number of biological blank slates. With genetic manipulation, their cells could be induced to differentiate into specialized cells that could be used to repair hearts, livers, brains and other tissue. The foundation argues in its amended lawsuit that Geron should have exclusive rights only to those products that it creates using its own patented technologies. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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