Group Asks for Stay of Stem Cell Injunction

by jeeg 6. September 2010 16:54

A stem cell research advocacy group consisting of nearly 100 universities, scientific societies, patient organizations and foundations has filed a court document explaining why Judge Royce Lamberth, who last month issued an injunction against federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, should stay his order.

In handing down the injunction on August 23, the judge argued that without it, the plaintiffs, adult stem cell researchers James Sherley and Theresa Deisher, would suffer “irreparable injury” in the form of competition for funding. On the other hand, he said, it “would not seriously harm [human embryonic stem cell] researchers because the injunction would simply preserve the status quo and would not interfere with their ability to obtain private funding for their research.”

In its 11-page document filed today, the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) details why that isn’t the case, arguing that the ruling will instead “effectuate a dramatic change and irreparably damage one of NIH’s most important research programs.” They note further that continuing the injunction will harm not just researchers and their institutions, but also “the millions of patients who could benefit from treatments developed using [human embryonic stem cell] research.”

In his memorandum last month, the judge also argued that the injunction serves the public interest because it “[carries] out the will of Congress” in upholding the Dickey-Wicker amendment, a law implemented in 1996 forbidding the creation and destruction of embryos for research purposes. The judge wrote that the law “unambiguously” prohibits the current funding policy.

CAMR’s document argues against this interpretation, noting that previous administrations, as well as Congress, have repeatedly endorsed research on human embryonic stem cells for more than a decade. The group also expands on the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells and notes that federal funding of embryonic stem cell research serves the public interest in its potential for uncovering treatments for many diseases.

The document, called an amicus brief, can be filed by parties who are not directly involved in a case but who nonetheless have an interest in its outcome.

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice filed a motion requesting the court to stay the injunction, and asked the court to reply by Tuesday, 7 September.

 

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