Embryonic Stem Cell Funds Resume by U.S. After Ruling

Embryonic stem cell research, grants, and funding reviews at the National Institutes of Health have resumed after a U.S. court suspended a ban, the agency said today in a statement.

A U.S. appeals court said yesterday that the government can keep funding embryonic stem cell research, at least during the initial stages of the agency’s challenge to a federal judge’s ban on the financial support. The NIH, the federal government’s health research agency, said today it will temporarily resume its operations that had been suspended.

Lifting the ban allows the government to continue channeling tens of millions of dollars to scientists seeking cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries and genetic conditions. Embryonic stem cells can grow into any kind of tissue and may have the potential to accelerate a range of research. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington ordered funds to be halted on Aug. 23.

“Human embryonic stem cell research holds the potential for generating profound new insights into disease, cell-based therapeutics and novel methods of screening for new drugs,” the NIH said in an e-mail statement. “The suspension of all grants, contracts and applications that involve the use of human embryonic stem cells has been temporarily lifted.”

The agency, based in Bethesda, Maryland, said it will present further arguments supporting the research to the court in coming weeks. Opponents of federal stem-cell funding have until Sept. 14 to file a response, and the U.S. can submit a response on Sept. 20, the appeals court said yesterday.