Suit against federal stem cell research dismissed

Jul 27, 2011 By NEDRA PICKLER , Associated Press

(AP) -- A lawsuit that had threatened to end the Obama administration's funding of embryonic stem cell research was thrown out Wednesday, allowing the U.S. to continue supporting a search for cures to deadly diseases over protests that the work relies on destroyed human embryos.

The lawsuit claimed that research funded by the National Institutes of Health violated the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law that prohibits taxpayer financing for work that harms an embryo. But the administration policy allows research on embryos that were culled long ago through private funding.

U.S. Royce Lamberth, chief of the federal court in Washington, last year said the lawsuit was likely to succeed and ordered a stop to the research while the case continued. But responding to a swift protest from the Obama administration, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here quickly overturned Lamberth's injunction and said the case was likely to fail.

The attorneys who brought the suit said in a statement that they are weighing their options for appeal. They pointed out that Lamberth said in his ruling in favor of the administration that he is bound by the higher court's analysis.

"This Court, following the D.C. Circuit's reasoning and conclusions, must find that defendants reasonably interpreted the Dickey-Wicker Amendment to permit funding for human because such research is not `research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed,' " Lamberth wrote.

Researchers hope one day to use in ways that cure , Parkinson's disease and other ailments. Opponents of the research object because the cells were obtained from destroyed . Though current research is using cells culled long ago, opponents also fear research success would spur destruction of new embryos. Proponents say the research cells come mostly from extra embryos discarded anyway by fertility clinics.

President George W. Bush also permitted stem cell research, but limited the availability of taxpayer funds to embryonic stem cell lines that were already in existence and "where the life and death decision has already been made." Obama's order removed that limitation, allowing projects that involve stem cells from already-destroyed embryos or to be destroyed in the future. To qualify, parents who donate the original embryo must be told of other options, such as donating to another infertile woman.

The Obama administration's rules expanded the number of stem cell lines created with private money that federally funded scientists could research, up from the 21 that Bush had allowed, to 128 and counting.

Obama adviser Stephanie Cutter wrote on the White House blog that Lamberth's ruling is good news for patients suffering from diseases that could potentially be treated by stem cell research.

"For too long, patients and families have suffered from debilitating, incurable diseases and we know that stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans across the country," she wrote. "President Obama is committed to supporting responsible and today's ruling was another step in the right direction."

The lawsuit was filed in 2009 by two scientists who argued that Obama's expansion jeopardized their ability to win government funding for research using adult - ones that have already matured to create specific types of tissues - because it will mean extra competition.

The scientific community applauded the ruling, as did National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins. "This ruling will help ensure this groundbreaking research can continue to move forward," Collins said in a statement.

Explore further: How to get high-quality RNA from chemically complex plants

0 shares

Related Stories

Judge won't let stem cell money keep flowing (Update)

Sep 07, 2010

(AP) -- A federal judge on Tuesday refused to lift his order blocking federal funding for some stem cell research, saying that a "parade of horribles" predicted by federal officials would not happen.

Feds appeal order blocking stem cell research

Sep 01, 2010

(AP) -- The Obama administration on Tuesday asked a federal judge to lift a restraining order that it says could undercut federally funded embryonic stem cell research.

Court allows US stem cell funding to continue

Apr 29, 2011

A US federal appeals court on Friday ruled that government funding for embryonic stem cell research can go ahead, handing a major victory to President Barack Obama's administration.

Recommended for you

Better mouse model enables colon cancer research

6 hours ago

Every day, it seems, someone in some lab is "curing cancer." Well, it's easy to kill cancer cells in a lab, but in a human, it's a lot more complicated, which is why nearly all cancer drugs fail clinical ...

How to get high-quality RNA from chemically complex plants

May 26, 2015

Ask any molecular plant biologist about RNA extractions and you might just open up the floodgates to the woes of troubleshooting. RNA extraction is a notoriously tricky and sensitive lab procedure. New protocols out of the ...

Plant fertility—how hormones get around

May 26, 2015

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology have identified a transporter protein at the heart of a number of plant processes associated with fertility and possibly aging.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.