Research involving human embryonic stem cells has resumed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) after a court order suspended the work for two weeks. On 9 September 2010, a federal appeals court suspended a preliminary injunction that halted NIH in-house research. The injunction was a result of a pending lawsuit filed by opponents of human embryonic stem cell research.

The reprieve, however, is temporary, as the court will hear oral arguments on 27 September to determine if a longer suspension of the injunction is warranted. The court can either allow for government funded research to continue or halt it until the case is formally considered. If the latter occurs, intramural and extramural NIH research will be impacted. In the meantime, NIH has pressed forward with funding renewal requests, as well as expedited consideration of some new research proposals.

Congress has also waded into the issue. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education considered the matter in a hearing on 16 September. Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), a long-time advocate for biomedical research, introduced a bill (S. 3766) to codify research involving human embryonic stem cells lines derived from unused embryos from fertility clinics. A similar measure, sponsored by Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Michael Castle (R-DE), is pending in the House of Representatives.

 


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