Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health, released a statement two days after a controversial injunction on stem cell research was issued by the US District Court of the District of Columbia. Dr. Collins stated that “(t)he recent court ruling that halted the federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research could cause irreparable damage and delay potential breakthroughs to improve care for people living with serious diseases and conditions such as spinal cord injury, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease. The injunction threatens to stop progress in one of the most encouraging areas of biomedical research, just as scientists are gaining momentum—and squander the investment we have already made.” (For the complete statement go to: http://www.nih.gov/about/director/08262010statement_stemcellinjunction.htm.)
The preliminary injunction ordering the temporary halt of all government funding of stem cell research is based on the case Sherley vs. Sebelius. The suit is brought by Christian groups to challenge President Obama’s reversal of the Bush administration’s increased restrictions on NIH funding of stem cell research under the Dickey-Wicker Amendment
The Dickey-Wicker Amendment prohibits federal funding for “(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero under” applicable federal regulations.
President Bush’s executive order in 2001 permitted funding induced pluripotential stem cell (iPSC) research, but prohibited federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells (ESCs) that were created after the date of the policy statement. Interestingly, federal funding remained available for research on ESCs that were created by private researchers prior to his policy statement.
Two physicians, Drs. James Sherley, of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, of Ave Maria Biotechnology Company, are co-plaintiffs with Nightlight Christian Adoptions and the Christian Medical Association. Ave Maria Biomedical Research Institute is a Seattle-based firm co-founded by Dr. Deisher to establish ethical alternatives to embryonic stem cell research.
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