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Stem Cell Funding Challenge Tossed by U.S. Appeals Court

Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- A lawsuit challenging U.S. funding for human embryonic stem-cell research was rejected by a federal appeals court in Washington, which upheld a lower court’s ruling dismissing the case.

A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington today said that U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth “committed no error” when he threw out the lawsuit filed by James Sherley, a researcher at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, founder of AVM Biotechnology in Seattle. Lamberth, in his July 2011 dismissal ruling, cited an earlier appeals court finding that the government-backed research is probably lawful.

The two doctors sought to block the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the National Institutes of Health from spending federal funds on research involving human embryonic stem cells, arguing it violates a law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.

The 1996 statute bars government spending on research that damages or destroys a human embryo. In a 2-1 decision in April 2011, the appeals court let the funding continue while Lamberth considered a final ruling. The appellate panel said the language of the statute wouldn’t support a funding cutoff.

The case is Sherley v. Sebelius, 11-5241, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Washington).

To contact the reporters on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at +1-202-654-7367 or tschoenberg@bloomberg.net; Sara Forden in Washington at +1-202-624-1915 or sforden@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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