Washington The government will quickly appeal a court ruling that undercut federally funded embryonic stem cell research, the Obama administration declared Tuesday, but dozens of experiments aimed at fighting spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments probably will stop in the meantime.
The White House and scientists said Monday’s court ruling was broader than first thought because it would prohibit even the more restricted stem cell research allowed for the past decade under President George W. Bush’s rules.
The Justice Department said an appeal is expected this week of the federal judge’s preliminary injunction that disrupted an entire field of science.
That initial ruling won’t stop all the work that scientists call critical to finding new therapies for devastating diseases. The National Institutes of Health told anxious researchers late Tuesday that if they’ve already received money this year — $131 million in total — they can keep doing their stem cell experiments.
But 22 projects that were due to get yearly checks in September, $54 million worth, “will be stopped in their tracks,” said NIH Director Francis Collins — meaning a waste of the millions those scientists already have spent unless they can find private dollars to keep the stem cells alive. Dozens more proposals won’t get a hearing pending the court case’s conclusion.
“This decision has just poured sand into the engine of discovery,” Collins said.
President Barack Obama, who last year ordered an expansion of stem cell research, “put forward stringent ethical guidelines, and he thinks that his policy’s the right one,” Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said.