NIH Issues New Stem Cell Research Guidelines as Obama Administration Prepares to Appeal Court Ruling

Aug 31, 2010 10:04am

ABC News' Ariane de Vogue reports:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — still reeling from a District Court ruling that blocked the use of federal funds for embryonic cell research — issued new guidance last night detailing how it will comply with the Court's preliminary injunction. 

Judge Royce Lamberth, a Reagan appointee, stunned the medical community when he issued the preliminary injunction against the federal funding saying it was in violation of a 1996 law that forbids the use of such funds when an embryo is destroyed or damaged.

As early as today, the Obama administration is set to appeal the August 23rd ruling.

According to the new NIH guidelines, any grant awards that were funded on or before August 23rd are "not affected" and  "award recipients may continue to expend the funds awarded to them prior to the date of the injunction. "

However, any further activity is "hereby suspended until further notice."  This means that the issuance of all pending, competing and noncompeting continuation of human embryo stem cell (hESC) research and contracts is suspended as well as all peer review of pending hESC applications. The  NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry is not accepting submissions of information about stem cell lines for the purpose of establishing eligibility.

After the ruling, Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of NIH issued a deeply critical statement, saying, "The 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. "

-Ariane de Vogue

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