September 19, 2011 / 8:55 PM / 8 years ago

Scientists appeal on embryonic stem cell funding

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two scientists on Monday appealed a ruling that permitted federal funding of human embryonic stem research to go forward, an effort by the U.S. government to try to find cures for deadly diseases.

Dr. James Sherley, a biological engineer at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, of Washington-based AVM Biotechnology, opposed such research and had sued to block funding.

They also argued it diverted money away from their work with adult stem cells. Opponents of human embryonic stem cell research, including many religious conservatives, have argued that it is unacceptable because it destroys human embryos.

In late July, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines allowing federal funds for such research did not violate a 1996 federal law and he dismissed the legal challenge.

Lamberth had initially ruled for the researchers in 2010 but was overturned by a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in April. Sherley and Deisher filed their appeal with the same appeals court.

Such stem cells come from days-old human embryos and can produce any type of cell in the body. Scientists hope to be able to use them to address spinal cord injuries, cancer, diabetes and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the appeal.

The case is Dr. James L. Sherley et al v Kathleen Sebelius et al, No. 09-cv-1575 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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