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US stem cell legislation to be introduced

11 July 2011
Appeared in BioNews 615

New legislation to permit federal funds to be used for research on embryos, which would otherwise be destroyed following IVF, will be introduced to the US Congress.

Diana DeGette, Republican representative for Colorado, who has sponsored the bill, said: 'This legislation would place into statute a framework to ensure such critical research can be conducted unimpeded by political interference'.

If approved, the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act 2011 will seek to codify the US National Institutes of Health's (NIH) guidelines for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research and will require the guidelines to be reviewed every three years. The Act will also prohibit the use of federal funds for human cloning techniques.

It is the third time such legislation has been considered by US politicians. Previous versions, which supporters say were similar to the current bill, were approved by Congress in 2006 and 2007 to be ultimately vetoed by former President George Bush. DeGette has called for broad bipartisan support for the new bill which she says was critical when passing the previous legislation - 'it certainly is critical for us now', she said.

The bill, co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent, would give legislative backing to President Obama's 2009 executive order allowing federal funds to be used for hESC research. Proponents of the new bill say uncertainty generated by current legal proceedings about hESC research funding - and the possibility of a future president overriding the order - is having a chilling effect on new research. The bill 'does establish ethical criteria for stem cell research, and I think that's very, very important', said Dent.

In 2010, two scientists challenged the NIH arguing its guidelines which followed Obama's order contravened a 1996 law called the Dickey-Wicker amendment – which features in the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill that funds the NIH. The law prohibits the use of federal funds for hESC research on embryos which are to be destroyed.

A temporary injunction on hESC research was lifted by a federal appeals court, which also confirmed the plaintiffs' ability to continue the case. The matter is now being determined by US District Court Judge Royce Lambert, with the final decision expected in the coming weeks.

DeGette reintroduces stem cell act, touts health and economic benefits
The Colorado Independent |  29 June 2011
Embryonic Stem Cell Fight Continues
The Scientist |  4 July 2011
Rep. DeGette renews bid to pass stem-cell legislation
Denver Post |  30 June 2011
Stem cell bill gets Republican champion
The Hill |  29 June 2011
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26 September 2011 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
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13 September 2010 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A federal appeals court in the US has ruled that federal funding for embryonic stem cell research may continue and an injunction placed on the funding by a lower court last month is temporarily suspended...
31 August 2010 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A ruling of a district federal judge has halted federally-funded embryonic stem cell research in the United States...
1 March 2010 - by Dr Jay Stone 
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has proposed a broader definition of 'human embryonic stem cell' (HES), which would allow Federal funding of research using cells at an early development stage....
9 March 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
US President Barack Obama has announced plans to lift the ban on the federal funding of embryonic stem (ES) cell research, put in place by his predecessor George W Bush more than eight years ago. Obama is expected to sign an executive order legalising the use of...
12 January 2009 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
As President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration date approaches, Democrats in the US are considering the best way to overturn the current restrictions on embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Mr Obama has already indicated that his administration will relax the restrictions but he now must decide whether to do...
11 June 2007 - by MacKenna Roberts 
As predicted, the US House of Representatives has approved - with a 247-176 majority - the version of the Stem Cell Enhancement Act 2007 that the Senate passed earlier this month. The bill, which would relax federal funding restrictions on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research, now awaits...
23 May 2005 - by BioNews 
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