Onco mouse raises hackles

IT'S BEEN a rat race to get the patent. But Harvard University's onco-mouse, a creature designed in a laboratory for cancer research, may still not make it.

In mid-May, shortly after the European Patent Office published its patent for this mouse that has been given cancer-causing genes, European green activists went to court challenging the patent on both technical and moral grounds. They argue that the European Patent Convention prohibits the patenting of "types of animals".

But while environmental and animal activists in every country in Europe gear up to fight the patent, the European biotechnology industry is afraid the never-ending battle over patents will drive business to USA, which allows patenting for transgenic animals.