US can continue to fund embryonic stem cell research

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The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) applauds the decision of Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (DC) to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the U.S. National Institutes of Health guidelines on funding human embryonic stem cell research (hESC).

Judge Lamberth agreed with the appeals court’s finding that NIH can interpret the Dickey-Wicker amendment to allow federal funding for research on human embryonic stem cells, but not on their derivation. He notes that the legislation’s definition of “research” is ambiguous. The judge also dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims that NIH failed to respond to relevant and significant public comments. The plaintiffs have 60 days in which to file for appeal to the DC Circuit Court.

Now, the US government can continue to fund embryonic stem cell research, as in August 2010 the human embryonic stem cell research was discontinued due to this case in the court. Funding for the work was halted, stoking uncertainty for scientists. Many worried that not knowing what backing would be available would have a chilling effect on studies aimed at understanding and possibly finding cures for a variety of common conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and spinal cord injuries.

The court’s decision in favor of human embryonic stem cell research will now lift the cloud that’s been hanging over researchers around the country.

Source: American Society for Cell Biology, USA

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