U.S Judge Halts Some Stem Cell Research

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) — A U.S. district judge Monday struck down an Obama administration policy on embryonic stem cell research, saying it violates rules on federal research funding.

Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said an executive order issued n 2009 by President Barack Obama violated a ban on the use of federal funds to destroy embryos, The New York Times reported Monday.

“If one step or ‘piece of research’ of (a stem cell) research project results in the destruction of an embryo, the entire project is precluded from receiving federal funding,” Lamberth wrote.

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health and at universities across the country, who had assumed the administration policy — and the grants provided under it — were settled law, were assessing the possible immediate impact of the ruling on their work, the newspaper said.

“I have had to tell everyone in my lab that when they feed their cells tomorrow morning, they better use media that has not been funded by the federal government,” Dr. George Q. Daley, director of the stem cell transplantation program at Children’s Hospital Boston, said. “This ruling means an immediate disruption of dozens of labs doing this work since the Obama Administration made its order.”

Daley said he believed the ruling means work funded under the new rules had to stop immediately but others said it means the health institutes had to use previous Bush administration rules to fund future grants.

Dr. Irving Weissman, director of the Stanford Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, said the ruling is “devastating to the hopes of researchers and patients who have been waiting so long for the promise of stem cell therapies.”

Weissman said he hoped the judge’s ruling would be overturned.

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