Lifestyle & Belief

Embryonic stem cell research can be funded by US gov, court rules


An assistant professor at the University of Connecticut works with stem cells. Researchers have found that ovarian stem cells in adult women can be used to produce new eggs, in a study published in Nature Medicine on February 26, 2012.


Spencer Platt

The US government can continue funding embryonic stem cell research, after a federal appeals court upheld a lower court's decision to throw out a lawsuit challenging federal funding for the research.

According to the Associated Press, opponents of stem cell research had claimed that the National Institute of Health was violating the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law, which prevents US funding for any work that could harm an embryo.

“Dickey-Wicker permits federal funding of research projects that utilize already-derived ESCs — which are not themselves embryos — because no ‘human embryo or embryos are destroyed’ in such projects,” Chief Judge David B. Sentelle said in the ruling, AP reported.

Dr. Francis Collins, the director of NIH, said in a statement that they would "continue to move forward, conducting and funding research in this very promising area of science. The ruling affirms our commitment to the patients afflicted by diseases that may one day be treatable using the results of this research.”

The lawsuit was filed in 2009 by Dr. James Sherley of Boston Biomedical Research Institute and Theresa Deisher of AVM Biotechnology in Seattle, NBC News reported. The two use adult stem cells for research, but oppose the use of embryonic stem cells, stem cells found in day old embryos that act source of all of the cells and tissues in the body.

According to the NIH, stem cells have "the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth" and can provide "new potentials for treating diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease."  

In Canada, a drug using stem cells, has been approved to treat bone marrow diseases.