European regulators on Thursday ruled against allowing a patent on developing human embryonic stem cells, a decision that could stifle research by stem cell companies for commercial purposes. The problem for companies looking to profit from technology using stem cells is that without patent protection there is little incentive to pour money into research.

An appeal panel at the European Patent Office upheld a June decision to reject a patent application regarding the use of stem cells filed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation in 1995.

University of Wisconsin researcher James Thomson was the first to isolate embryonic stem cells in 1988, a discovery that was later patented.But that patent and others related to it held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation had been challenged.

In the United States, companies like Geron Corp have been granted patents on certain types of human embryonic stem cell growth technology.

Source: ABC News