The end may be drawing near for a lawsuit that has threatened for years to stop government-funded research that involves human embryonic stem cells. On 7 January, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it declined to review the case, which was filed by two medical researchers who claimed they were disadvantaged by the Obama Administration’s stem cell policy because they study induced pluripotent stem cells (stem cells derived from adult cells).

The case was dismissed in July 2011 by a federal judge, but the plaintiffs chose to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. In 2010, federally funded intramural stem cell research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was halted by court order, until a higher court overturned that decision.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of NIH released the following statement on 7 January: “I am very pleased with today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline to review the Sherley v. Sebelius U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. This decision allows the ruling to stand, and enables NIH to continue conducting and funding stem cell research, following the strict ethical guidelines put in place in 2009. Patients and their families who look forward to new therapies to replace cells lost by disease or injury, or who may benefit from new drugs identified by screening using stem cells, should be reassured that NIH will continue supporting this promising research.”


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