Stem cell research issues fought out in the court

A US district court has issued a temporary injunction stopping President Obama’s plans to increase funding for human embryonic stem cell research. The US government will appeal. According to a Justice Department spokesman, they are likely to file a case this week.

The court had earlier ruled in favour of researchers who say the work involves the destruction of human embryos. According to Judge Royce Lamberth, lawsuits brought against the new guidelines could now go ahead. The lawsuit was also backed by Christian groups including the Alliance Defense Fund and is against the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Judge Lamberth said, “ESC (embryonic stem cell) research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed… To conduct ESC research, ESCs must be derived from an embryo. The process of deriving ESCs from an embryo results in the destruction of the embryo… Thus ESC research necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo.”

This came after President Obama lifted the ban on federal funding for stem cell research in March. Spokesperson from the White House said that all possible avenues were being explored for research. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaller said, “I can confirm we plan to appeal.”

The ban was kept in place by previous President, George W Bush, and many experts felt that this was holding back research towards treatment of diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes. Judge Lamberth however believes that an injunction would not “seriously harm” the embryonic studies because it did “not interfere with their [researchers'] ability to obtain private funding for their research”. He would soon be hearing both sides of the story after the appeal.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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