Court lifts ban on stem cell funding during appeal

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has temporarily stayed a cut-off in government funding for human embryonic stem cell research. As a result of the stay, the Obama administration can fund embryonic stem cell studies as it appeals a decision banning government support for such research.

"The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the merits of the emergency motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion," the Appeals Court says in its order.

The Justice Department has been arguing against Judge Royce Lamberth's decision last month that President Barack Obama's executive order expanding government support for the field violated an earlier presidential ban on funding. Justice maintained the ban would hamper would cause irreparable harm to researchers, taxpayers and scientific progress, Bloomberg notes.

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle this week said his state would join national efforts to ensure that federal funding is available for stem cell researchers.  "Wisconsin is home to over 600 biotechnology companies and 11 stem cell companies," Governor Doyle says in a statement. "In total, there are more than 34,000 people working in bioscience research and industry in Wisconsin. These fields contribute almost $9 billion to Wisconsin's economy. But all of that is at risk today. Make no mistake; losing the millions of dollars in federal grants that our top researchers have earned will be detrimental to this state."

Stem-cell companies gained after the decision was announced, Bloomberg notes. Geron climbed 7.1 percent to $5.24, and Aastrom Biosciences added 2.4 percent to $1.51.

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- read the Appeals Court's order
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