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  • Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Stem Cell Policy

    The Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to President Obama's policy of expanding government-funded research using embryonic stem cells that scientists say may offer hope for new treatments for spinal injuries and Parkinson disease, reports the Los Angeles Times

    The court's action brings an end to a lawsuit that threatened to end all funding for such research. 

    A federal judge in Washington in 2010 ordered the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to halt funding of the research, citing a long-standing congressional ban on spending for research in which "human embryos are destroyed."

    But an appeals court overturned that order and ruled last year that the ban applied only to research that destroyed human embryos so as to obtain stem cells.

    President George W. Bush in 2001 had allowed limited research on several stem cell lines that were already in existence. Upon taking office in 2009, President Obama went further and said NIH could conduct "scientifically worthy human stem cell research to the extent permitted by law." Under guidelines issued by NIH, researchers can used stem line cells derived from donated frozen embryos that are no longer needed for fertility treatments, says the article.

    Two researchers who work with adult stem lines brought the lawsuit to the high court. They were represented by several groups, including the Law of Life Project, whose general counsel called human stem cell research "an ethical tragedy as well as a waste of the taxpayer's money," the Times says.

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