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Scientists Dismayed by Stem Cell Research Ruling
Date:8/24/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. scientists are reacting with dismay to Monday's decision by a U.S. judge to halt any expansion of stem cell research using federal funds.

The temporary injunction, which basically blindsided the scientific community, effectively takes embryonic stem cell research back to the pre-2001 days. That was when then-President Bush ordered that federal monies could only be used to fund research involving embryonic stem cell lines created before 2001.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration, which had issued an executive order overturning the Bush order, said it was considering its options, including a possible appeal of the judge's ruling, according to the Associated Press.

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said Obama still thinks his policy is the right one, and believes it can lead to lifesaving treatments while maintaining "stringent ethical guidelines." Asked by reporters if an appeal is planned, Burton said "all possible avenues" are being explored.

In the scientific community, stem cell experts said the judge's ruling will cripple this area of research.

"It's a worst-case scenario," said Susan Solomon, CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, which operates with private funds. "It actually takes [us] even further back than during the Bush lines, because at least then you could work on so-called approved Bush lines. But now you can't work on anything. It's unwieldy. It's unworkable, and we believe it will be reversed."

Solomon also said that the court decision "allows a vocal minority to hold science hostage to a narrow political agenda."

"It's an enormous impact, and it hurts more now trying to stop the additional research that's been going on [since the Obama order]," said Paul Sanberg, a stem cell expert and director of the University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa.

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