This afternoon the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia lifted a temporary injunction barring the federal government from funding research involving human embryonic stem cell research. The Court said that the federal government could resume funding the research pending a full appeal of the case.
Carlea Bauman, President of the Colorectal Cancer Coaliton issued the following statement after the ruling,
“We applaud the Court of Appeals for its action. Embryonic stem cell research plays an important role in the scientific battle against many diseases – and federal funding is vital to this type of research. We urge Congress to act quickly so that not another day is wasted.”
Today’s ruling was issued because on Aug 23 U.S. District Judge Lamberth issued a ruling in a lawsuit filed by two researchers (Sherley v. Sebelius) working on alternatives to the cells, finding that the funding violated a federal rule that prohibits federal tax money from being used for research that involves the destruction of human embryos. Judge Lamberth’s ruling dealt a blow to a promising area of biomedical research.
In response to the ruling, the National Institutes of Health announced it was suspending consideration of any new grants for such research. Any researchers who had already received funding could continue their work, but their grants would not be renewed when they come up for routine review.
After the Aug 23 ruling, the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) (the Colorectal Cancer Coalition is a member of CAMR) filed an amicus brief with Judge Lamberth bringing to the court’s attention publicly available documents and other materials so that the Court has the opportunity to take into consideration CAMR members’ best interests and the need for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. CAMR and its members are committed to this issue and will fight to restore federal funding for this important research that offers the promise of better treatments and cures for so many.
Here’s an excerpt from today’s order:
O R D E R
Upon consideration of the emergency motion for stay pending appeal and for immediate administrative stay, it is
ORDERED that the district court’s August 23, 2010 order be stayed pending further order of the court. The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the merits of the emergency motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion. See D.C. Circuit Handbook of Practice and Internal Procedures 33 (2010). It is
FURTHER ORDERED that appellees file a response to the emergency motion by September 14, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. The appellants may file a reply by 4:00 p.m. on September 20, 2010. The parties are directed to hand-deliver the paper copies of their submissions to the court by the time and date due.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), who has long-championed allowing federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, said she expected Congress would soon consider legislation to codify the Obama stem cell policy. Rep. DeGette’s bill – the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 873) – would allow federal support of research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human embryo. Stem cell lines must meet ethical guidelines established by the NIH, which would be issued within 60 days of enactment.
“Given the potentially devastating blow this court case could give to ethical research, I think the momentum is strong for passing legislation,” DeGette said.