September 12, 2010

Stem Cell Funding Resumed

After an appeals court ruled in its favor on Friday, the US government said it would resume work on controversial human embryonic stem cell research.

In the latest legal flip-flop over the stem cell research issue, a US appeals court granted an Obama administration request to temporarily lift US District Judge Royce Lamberth's ban on federal funding of research involving human embryonic stem cells.

The National Institutes of Health said it would resume its work while further legal action is pending. "We are pleased with the court's interim ruling, which will allow promising stem cell research to continue while we present further arguments to the court in the weeks to come," the NIH said in a statement.

The NIH has "resumed intramural research and will continue its consideration of grants that were frozen by the preliminary injunction on August 23." The temporary lift of the ban means suspension of all grants, contracts, and applications have also been lifted.

The three-judge panel of the appeals court said its brief order to put the judge's ban on hold was for consideration of merits of the administration's emergency request for a stay of his injunction.

Judge Lamberth ruled last month that the research violated US law because it involved the destruction of human embryos. The ruling was a setback for President Obama, who has tried to expand the research.

The appeals court ordered that briefs be filed by Sept 20. It then will decide whether the temporary stay should be extended or ended.

Last month, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said 50 applications for human embryonic stem cell research being considered for federal funding were being pulled out of the stack because of Judge Lamberth's injunction. He said the NIH would have to freeze $54 million worth of grants up for review this month.

Any direct work using human embryonic stem cells done at NIH would also be stopped, he said. About $130 million worth of ongoing research would not be affected, he said.


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