Stem Cell Lawsuit Back Again

Jocelyn is a staff writer for Science magazine.

As expected, the plaintiffs in a law suit claiming that federally funded research on human embryonic stem cells (hESC) is illegal have appealed a ruling that dealt them a defeat earlier this summer.

Scientists James Sherley and Theresa Deisher filed their suit 2 years ago, arguing that the National Institutes of Health (NIH's) policy easing Bush-era restrictions on research using hESCs violated a law banning federally funded research that destroys embryos. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth agreed in August 2010 and granted a preliminary injunction in their favor that halted hESC research. But an appeals court soon stayed the injunction and last spring ruled 2-1 in favor of NIH. In July, Lamberth too ruled in favor of NIH, writing that he had little choice but to follow the appeals court decision.

The plaintiffs have now appealed Lamberth's ruling in a two-page notice dated 19 September. The appeals court will now issue a schedule for briefs and oral arguments. Legal experts have predicted that the plaintiffs will lose in the appeals court and will take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where their chances of success also seem slim.

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