Sky’s the limit on iPS cell licensure cost from Academia Japan

I’ve been researching the issue of how intellectual property (IP) and patents to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell will influence the field.

It’s a complicated, worrisome picture in terms of getting this technology to patients to help them.

I’m concerned there may be an all out patent war.

Even for those who do not go to court or challenge each other’s iPS cell patents, but choose instead to go the licensure route, things are troubling. The organization in the driver’s seat is called iPS Academia Japan (AJ).

iPS cell licensure fees

Sadly, iPS cell licensure is an expensive and nebulous undertaking.

On the AJ website the prices go to $50K per year and you’ll note that it says “From US$50K/year” for therapeutic uses.

The key word is “From”.

See image above from the AJ website. Ouch.

In other words, the sky’s the limit. Not so simple. Not so reassuring.

A practical real world example of this is Cellular Dynamics, which has paid AJ $351,000 in license fees and royalties.

That’s big bucks and is just the total so far. So contrary to some other reports, the current iPS cell IP arena and the associated costs are anything but simple or reassuring.

This is likely bad news for patients.

1 Comment

  1. Of course you’re right in saying that “the current iPS cell IP arena and the associated costs are anything but simple or reassuring”…as I’ve written elsewhere (, the iPSC IP landscape is nothing short of a minefield, to the extent that most industry leaders I talk to freely admit to not really knowing who owns what, which patents are really important, or how things will all shake out in the end. But, that said, license fees and royalties on the order of what iPS Academia Japan is charging really aren’t terribly onerous…at least in the commercial world. Actually, order-of-magnitude-wise, pretty much par for the course in the biotech tools industry. Of course, numbers like these are a different story for academic researchers…but then how many academics actually take out licenses? (That’s an actual question, not a rhetorical one…I got the heck out of academia before most academics could even spell ‘license’, much less worry about them, so I don’t really know).

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