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Stem cell research funding lawsuit returns as plaintiffs appeal

26 September 2011
Appeared in BioNews 626

Lawyers acting for two US scientists who sought to challenge the legality of a decision by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to allow research on new embryonic stem cell (ES cell) lines have filed a notice of appeal. They seek to reverse the decision made against them by a district judge in July.

The NIH issued new guidelines which allowed federal funding for research using cell lines already established from embryos, as long as they avoided destroying any new embryos.

This decision was challenged in the courts by two plaintiffs, Dr James Sherley from Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher from AVM Biotechnology, who argued that NIH policy violated a 1996 law which prohibits using federal funding for research which involves the destruction of embryos. They also said the money would be better spent on research using adult stem cells.

At the time, Judge Royce Lambeth agreed, and granted a temporary injunction on such research in August 2010. But this was challenged in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where judges voted 2-1 in favour of the NIH, ending the injunction.

When the case went back to Judge Lambeth, he acknowledged he had little choice but to follow the lead of the Appeals court and rule in favour of allowing research. He said his court had 'become a grudging partner in a bout of 'linguistic jujitsu'.

The US Government contends the wording of the 1996 law refers only to the process of deriving stem cells from embryos, during which the embryo is destroyed, and not to subsequent research on those cell lines.

Opponents of Obama’s embryonic stem cell policy appeal loss in lawsuit to stop research
The Washington Post |  19 September 2011
Opponents of stem cell research appeal court loss
Forbes |  20 September 2011
Plaintiffs appeal stem cell decision
Nature Blogs |  19 September 2011
Scientists appeal on embryonic stem cell funding
Reuters |  9 September 2011
Stem Cell Funding in Court…Again
The Scientist |  20 September 2011
Stem Cell Lawsuit Back Again
Science Insider |  19 September 2011
16 July 2012 - by Cait McDonagh 
Six patients in California, USA, are suing a South Korean company and others for allegedly misleading them about the benefits of stem cell treatments sold to them...
19 December 2011 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A survey of over 200 human embryonic stem cell (hESC) researchers in the US has found almost four in ten respondents had experienced delays in obtaining cell lines and over one-quarter said they were unable to obtain a required cell line at all....
19 August 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Should human embryonic stem cell research be deemed unethical for its embryo destruction? The US court decision in Sherley v Sebelius on 27 July 2011 to allow federal funding of this research set a global precedent. The meaning of research was divided into two categories: that which directly involves embryo destruction and that which does not...
1 August 2011 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
A District Court judge in the US has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to ban federal funding for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. The decision, by Judge Royce Lambeth, is the latest development in the case of Sherley v Sebelius – a landmark lawsuit filed against the US's state-funded National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2009...
11 July 2011 - by Nisha Satkunarajah 
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....
13 December 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
The US courts are currently attempting to decide whether human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research may continue to receive federal funding, after a lawsuit was brought against the US Government last year....
13 September 2010 - by Dr Megan Allyse 
Have you ever played the children's game Red Light/Green Light? Someone yells 'green light!' and everyone runs as fast as they can (some in circles, but that's not against the rules). When they yell 'red light!', everyone freezes in some contorted position. Playing Red Light/Green Light seems not unlike the experience of conducting embryonic stem cell research in the United States...
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