US Appeals Court Lift Ban of Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research
Saturday, 30 April 2011
“Stem cells are thought to have properties that can cure many diseases that other treatments cannot. However, because the cells often come from embryos, the issue is hotly debated. This recent Court of Appeals decision has been heralded a victory for those who wish to continue research; public colleges are now eligible to receive Federal funding. This influx of stem cell research will be a huge benefit to the health science community and are likely to lead less traditional programs, like online PhD programs, to contribute as well."
The appeals court overturned the ruling by the District Judge Royce Lamberth, who found that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines on such research violated the law because embryos were destroyed and it put other researchers working with adult stem cells at a disadvantage to win federal grants.
The US Court of Appeals in Washington ruled 2-1 on Friday that a 1996 US law against federal funding of embryo destruction was "ambiguous", and "did not prohibit funding a research project in which an ESC (embryonic stem cell) will be used".
"This is a momentous day – not only for science, but for the hopes of thousands of patients and their families who are relying on NIH-funded scientists to pursue life-saving discoveries and therapies that could come from stem cell research," NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement.
White House spokesperson Nick Papas said the decision was a victory for scientists and patients.
"Responsible stem cell research has the potential to treat some of our most devastating diseases and conditions and offers hope to families across the country and around the world," he said.
“This is a victory not only for the scientists, but for the patients who are waiting for treatments and cures for terrible diseases,” Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD, said. Kriegstein is director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF.
“This ruling allows critical research to move forward, enabling scientists to compare human embryonic stem cells to other forms of stem cells, such as the cell lines which are derived from skin cells, and to pursue potentially life-saving therapies based on that research.”
Kriegstein was one of two University of California scientists to file a Declaration in September 2010 in support of the UC Board of Regents’ motion to intervene in the August lawsuit, Sherley v. Sebelius.
Sherly v. Sebelius had argued that when the Obama Administration lifted a ban on federal funding for the research in March 2009, it had violated the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which barred using taxpayer funds in research that destroyed embryos.
“I am very happy with this decision, although I am surprised that it wasn’t a unanimous vote,” Kriegstein said.
“In my opinion, the evidence in favour of pursuing this research is overwhelming compared to the arguments submitted to stop the research.”
UCSF launched the nation’s first stem cell PhD program in 2010, for which the first class already has been chosen and will begin in fall 2011.
“This is an important day for stem cell research and the nation’s scientific community. Most importantly, this is a victory for the patients around the world suffering from incurable diseases,” says Susan L. Solomon, CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF).
“The time has come for our leaders to put progress before politics on this issue and remove all of the remaining, unnecessary limitations on human embryonic stem cell research conducted with the best ethical and medical practices. We need to put an end to the constant uncertainty facing the field of embryonic stem cell research so scientists can get on with the serious business of research and maintain the kind of momentum that will lead to cures for the most intractable diseases facing mankind.”
Read the full court ruling
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