On August 23rd, a federal district judge issued a temporary ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Stem cell research holds great promise for the treatment of millions of Americans with debilitating and possibly fatal diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Because of the court injunction, the NIH reports that it will not review grant applications involving stem cell research, and similar grants that are up for renewal will not be funded.

In response to the court injunction, The Endocrine Society is re-issuing its 2009 Position Statement calling for an increase in NIH funding for stem cell research as well as expanding the scope of funding to include promising yet neglected areas of stem cell research.

Specifically, The Endocrine Society supports the following positions:

- An increase in NIH funding for stem cell research;

- An increase in the number of embryonic stem cell lines for NIH-funded research;

- A broadening of the scope of federally funded research to include cells generated through somatic cell nuclear transfer;

- Availability of federal funding for the derivation of embryonic stem cells from discarded in vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos and through somatic cell nuclear transfer;

- Adherence to the highest ethical and scientific research standards; and

- Federal oversight of embryonic stem cell research to assure ethical standards are always met.

Embryonic stem cells are unique in that they can be induced to become any cell in the body, including cells with special functions, such as the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas or the beating cells of the heart muscle. Stem cell research could lead to promising treatments for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, AIDS and many others.

In 2001, President Bush imposed federal funding restrictions limiting the use of human embryonic stem cells. On March 9, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13505 overturning the restriction in the previous policy. This important step allowed for a greater number of cell lines derived from IVF embryos to be qualified for use in federally funded research. The reasoning behind the new court injunction may render all scientific work involving embryonic stem cells illegal - including work allowed under the policy adopted by President Bush in 2001.

Source:
Endocrine Society

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