Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court made a critical decision to end a lawsuit that threatened to hinder ongoing National Institutes of Health funding for human embryonic stem cell research.
According to a Reuters report, the Court “refused to review a challenge to federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research brought by two researchers who said the U.S. National Institutes of Health rules on such studies violate federal law.”
The specifics of the lawsuit Sherley v. Sebelius surrounded the types of stem cells that were open to federal money following a 2009 executive order from President Obama that expanded upon existing funding for such research. The plaintiffs in the suit claimed that they were “at risk of being squeezed out of federal grants for their own work with adult stem cells,” which was not open to federal monies; the Obama order only provided for funding to stem-cell lines from fertility clinics that would have otherwise been thrown away, says Reuters.
But the decision has greater implications than merely the trajectory of the careers of two researchers: Stem cell supporters feared that a review of this lawsuit might have stalled federal funding across the board.
Dear Parkinson's Disease Community,
I am extremely happy to tell you that just this morning the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Sherley v. Sebelius, letting stand the Court of Appeals ruling against opponents of stem cell research. This victory for research and patients brings an end to this long litigation. Scientists can now proceed with their work, knowing that the Obama Administration's policy on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research will remain in place and that the National Institutes of Health will continue funding. Human embryonic stem cells have shown recent promise in many areas including diseases of the eye and spinal cord injury, as well as serving as the basis for research on induced pluripotent stem cells, which have become very important in Parkinson's disease research.
In the coming weeks, PAN, as a leading Board member of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, will be working with our Capitol Hill champions to determine whether we foresee other immediate challenges to federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research or whether federal funding will at last go unchallenged, allowing the science to move forward as it should. Of course, we will also continue to follow state-level challenges to human embryonic stem cell research, which were quite active last year.
This is a huge victory for those living with or having a loved one with one of the many diseases and conditions that may benefit from promising biomedical research.