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Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

Faculty of Law



On Monday 5th March 2018, three LML members (Dr Kathy Liddell, Professor Mateo Aboy, and Dr John Liddicoat) participated in an international conference on bio-innovation law, hosted by the University of Copenhagen.

The event marked the commencement of CeBIL, the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Collaborative Research Programme in Biomedical Innovation Law; a substantial international collaboration between the University of Copenhagen's Law Faculty (principal organisation), Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, the University of Cambridge's Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, the University of Michigan, and the University of Copenhagen's Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), alongside a broad network of stakeholder organisations and international experts within law, economics, life sciences, medicine, sociology, and pharmacy. The collaboration is led by Professor Timo Minssen from the University of Copenhagen (formerly a LML Visiting Scholar).

Dr Kathy Liddell (Director of LML) will head CeBIL’s study on Repurposing Known Drugs (one of its five core studies), which will focus on the challenges of new medical use patents and feasible alternatives to support repurposing. She gave an introduction to the New Uses Study, and chaired a panel debate on Synergy and Policy Solutions.

Kathy’s presentation set out several reasons why new medical purpose patents are socially, ethically and legally controversial. Her presentation also sought to describe the contribution that LML hopes to make via its forthcoming CeBIL project, namely to: investigate the landscape of new medical purpose incentives including the corporate innovation context, national legal variations; analyse the implications of recent case law (for example, Warner-Lambert); assess the nature, source and extent of the incentive gap for developing new medical treatments; assess and evaluate the feasibility, efficacy and lawfulness of proposed legal policy solutions; and examine the ethical implications of alternative solutions and in particular their distributive 

Professor Mateo Aboy (Senior Research Scholar with LML) acts as a CeBIL special advisor, and  delivered the talk "Myriad's Impact on Gene Patents: Lessons to be learned from empirical studies".   Professor Aboy's topic has close links with two recent LML publications in Nature Biotechnology co-authored by Mateo, John Liddicoat, Kathy Liddell and Cristina Crespo. Mateo's presentation showcased LML's pioneering methodologies for patent landscaping, claims analysis and prosecution studies. The CeBIL team plan to use these methodologies to inform each of the five core studies, and to develop a sub-project in a sixth overarching study on Synergy and Policy Solutions.  

Presentations of particular interest to LML were Timo Minssen's talk and his explanation of how he sees CeBIL's research programme taking shape. Glenn Cohen's presentation was also of special interest as he spoke on a topic which has been at the heart of LML's research over the past 3 years, namely precision medicine. Glenn will lead CeBIL's study on precision medicine together with Nicholson Price (University of Michigan), Carmel Schacher (Petrie-Flom Centre, Harvard Law School) and Timo Minssen (University of Copenhagen). They plan to focus on legal and ethical issues which arise in the regulation of algorithms used in 'black box' precision medicine. It was also very interesting to hear Ben Roin's perspective on new medical use patents in the US. Kevin Outterson (a Cambridge Alumni) spoke on antibiotic innovation as did Aaron Kesselheim. A set of issues emerging for life science legal academics is those surrounding the manufacturing of biologics. Nicholson Price spoke informatively on these.

The next CeBIL event will be an Annual Symposium on Precision Medicine, to be hosted by LML in Cambridge in September 2018. If you are interested in attending please contact