A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the federal government from funding medical research involving human embryonic stem cells.
Privately funded researchers or companies are not affected. It may block government research since it is dependent on government funds.
The injunction against funding human embryonic stem cell research came as a shock that it violated law prohibiting the use of federal funds to destroy embryos for research. The ruling will not stop more than $130 million worth of ongoing research. It is also unclear how future business may be impacted.
Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District Court of Columbia handed down the ruling. The Dickey-Wicker Amendment from 1996 protects the destruction of embryos.
Extracting cells from an embryo will destroy it. Under NIH guidelines embryonic-stem-cell research is permitted, but destroying it is not.
His ruling, under the Dickey-Wicker amendment will “simply preserve the status quo” since the medical research destroyed the embryos. He also stated his decision was based upon the destruction of a human embryo.
Researchers are testing embryonic stem cells to restore severed spines, regenerate brain cells in Parkinson’s disease and restore the tissue in juvenile diabetes.
The injunction is seen as a slap to the Obama administration, which actively encourages research in stem cells. According to Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, the department will file an appeal in the next week.