Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wrong Direction on Stem Cells

New York Times
August 24, 2010

In a huge overreach, a federal judge has decided that the legal interpretation that has governed federal support of embryonic stem cell research for more than a decade is invalid. If the ruling stands, it will be a serious blow to medical research.

The ruling by Judge Royce Lamberth would block President Obama’s expansion of federally funded research to include scores of new stem cell lines. It also appears to bar funding for research on the handful of lines that were approved by President George W. Bush in 2001. The Department of Justice has rightly announced that it will appeal.

Scientists hold high hopes that this research will lead to cures for devastating ailments like diabetes, Parkinson’s and spinal cord injuries. The stem cells are also useful for screening drugs to treat such diseases. Researchers who already have federal money in hand could likely continue their work. But those who need new funding for proposed or continuing research would have to find private sources or shut their experiments down.