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NIH Orders Halt To Embryonic Stem Cell Research 593

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-this-debate-again dept.
sciencehabit writes "Responding to a court order issued a week ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Friday ordered intramural researchers studying human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to shut down their experiments. NIH's action — probably unprecedented in its history — is a response to a preliminary injunction on 23 August from US District Judge Royce Lamberth. The judge ruled that the Obama policy allowing NIH funding to be used to study hESC lines violates a law prohibiting the use of federal funds to destroy embryos."
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NIH Orders Halt To Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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  • Too late (Score:4, Informative)

    by overshoot (39700) on Monday August 30, 2010 @03:53PM (#33418756)

    What if the scientists just charge for the research, but present an itemized bill that throws in the embryo destruction for free?

    The ruling applies to cell lines derived from more recent embryos -- they're already destroyed and would have been anyway, but the cell lines are already harvested. It's a strange ruling since it doesn't prevent any new embryo destruction (and wouldn't anyway, since they're excess IVF embryos and are headed for the biowaste system either way.)

    I'm mostly kidding, but isn't there some decent way to weasel around this?

    Nope. The Court has ruled. Unless and until a higher court reverses the ruling, it's binding.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday August 30, 2010 @03:56PM (#33418804)
    For effective stem cell therapy, you need to use your own stem cells. Those would only be available if you saved some at birth (there are companies that offer to freeze and store umbilical cord blood on the off chance that someday it might be useful.) But for most people alive now, adult cells would need to be used.
  • Why bother? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:04PM (#33418904)

    Why is everyone making a big stink about embryonic stell research anyways? Adult stem cell research appears to show a lot more promise and doesn't have all the abortion political baggage tied to it. I don't understand the Obama Administration's stance on this; they spend a lot of political capital on a science that is decades away from producing anything real when a comparable science, Adult Stem Cell research, could be supported without expending almost any political capital.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:12PM (#33419014)

    Everyone who is against stem cell research should be unable to ever benefit from the results of said research.

    Citation needed.

    NIH Order Halt to Embryonic Stem Cell Research

    You know what the world "halt" means? It means stop. As in, there is no longer research into this field, so there will be no benefits.
    Also, I like how you conveniently lump adult stem cell research into this argument. They are unrelated. Kudos to you, dick.

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cfulmer (3166) on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:19PM (#33419088) Homepage Journal
    Funny you should ask -- that's approximately the reasoning that the government used in the court case to try to say it was legal. Basically, they said "We're not funding the destruction, we're just funding all of the other activities that constitute research." The judge wasn't buying it -- the statute doesn't say "Federal money cannot be used to destroy embryos." It says (approximately) "Federal money cannot be used to fund research in which embryos are destroyed." And, under the relevant regulations, "research" was defined as the entire end-to-end process. In case anybody thinks this was an out-of-control judge on a philosophical bent, I'll note that this was the second time he heard the case -- the first time, he dismissed it because he didn't think the people suing had standing to sue. It was only after they appealed and WON that he decided to grant the preliminary injunction.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:22PM (#33419122)

    That is not true. Adult stem cells have been found to exist throughout the body including skin, mammary glands, etc. While I'm quoting Wikipedia, the article has numerous good citiations built in. Note the section on olfactory stem cells, where it says that they have the same ability as embryonic stem cells and can be harvested much easier and directly from the body of the patient. []

  • by Ruke (857276) on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:23PM (#33419138)
    The results follow the research money. Embryonic stem cell research hasn't provided as much fruit as it is capable of because the NIH isn't willing to fund it, or any part of it. If your lab uses microscopes bought with an NIH grant, you cannot use those microscopes in embryonic stem cell research. And very few labs are fully stocked with equipment that hasn't been partially paid for with NIH funds.
  • by SDF-7 (556604) on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:25PM (#33419166)

    Riiight... which is why the Catholic Church is such a proponent of IVF [].

    Oh wait -- that's in Bizarro land.

    As far as fertility drugs, they're apparently generally fine with them -- simply cautioning that large multiple pregnancies put both mother and infants at risk.

    Sorry to burst your bubble but some of these "arrogant and self centered" folk are more consistent than you think. (And I would think on at least the "arrogant" front that there's a little speech about not worrying about the mote in your neighbor's eye....)

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:3, Informative)

    by SideshowBob (82333) on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:31PM (#33419264)

    If you're talking about the Christian bible when you say 'some book', I don't even think you can use that as a source for the belief that abortion is wrong. The bible is pretty clear that an unborn fetus is not a person.

  • Re:Law's the Law (Score:3, Informative)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:34PM (#33419308)

    and while I hope they fight this ruling

    After reviewing the law this ruling references, there is no benefit to fighting this ruling. This ruling is an accurate reflection of the wording (and almost certainly the intent) of the law it is based on. This was not a judge stretching the law to get the answer he/she wanted. This was a judge making a ruling on the clearly expressed intent of Congress. Not only that but the law in question is clearly within the Constitutional authority of Congress. The only group with the Constitutional authority to change this situation is Congress.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:36PM (#33419348)
    No, by his logic, there would be many successful treatments for cancer by now, that is obviously not the case...oh wait, it is the case that there are many successful treatments for cancer, so I guess your attempt to show his argument as being logically flawed is...logically flawed.
  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:36PM (#33419350) Journal

    The Nazis took great leaps forward in science and medicine, but look who they experimented on in the process. I'm just saying...

    Scientific research != being a Nazi.

    Just sayin'.

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:1, Informative)

    by vandon (233276) on Monday August 30, 2010 @04:48PM (#33419544) Homepage

    WTF? Does anyone read the linked articles anymore??

    The agency has eight research projects that use hESCs, most if not all of which use lines approved under the Bush Administration, say NIH officials.

    Approved UNDER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION....this is an Obama/Obama cabinet change that caused this. Don't blame the GOP for stuff the wingnuts did.

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday August 30, 2010 @05:17PM (#33419950) Journal

    Because democrats totally can't comment to news outlets directly, rather than by CSpan? And they have the advantage of commenting when they would like. The republicans would have to keep talking, even long after they had run out of things to say.

    I see your point, but I still think the Republicans would benefit from actually going through with a filibuster. They're much better at spin than the Democrats. Don't forget the Republicans could do the same thing as the Democrats outside of Congress.

    The Democrats are afraid of the Republicans, for good reason. Democrats want to fly under the radar while they are in power and the economy sucks. The Republican brand of derp resonates with a lot of people much better than the Democratic brand of derp, particlarly given how effective the Republicans are at spin.

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday August 30, 2010 @05:21PM (#33420008) Homepage

    One reason was that the Republicans threatened to revise Senate rules to completely remove the filibuster. In some ways I rather wish they had. It was a fairly arrogant threat based on the premise that there had been a complete sea change in American politics and the Democrats would never regain a majority in the Senate. It would have probably resulted in even more laws getting through during the Republican majority, but it would have been kinda funny to watch after they lost the Senate.

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:1, Informative)

    by jeff4747 (256583) on Monday August 30, 2010 @05:26PM (#33420090)

    WTF? Does anyone read the linked articles anymore??

    Apparently, you didn't read it either.

    this is an Obama/Obama cabinet change that caused this

    No, this was a lawsuit filed by right-wing fundamentalists, who got before a right-wing judge appointed by the Bush administration. The judge ruled that the research was illegal. The only connection to the Obama administration is the people behind the lawsuit apparently didn't feel it was worth suing over during the Bush administration.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Monday August 30, 2010 @05:39PM (#33420270) Homepage

    "just substitute "Jew" or "Christian" or "Black" or "Chinaman" for "Embryo" and you'll see how atrocities are committed in the name of "society"."

    I heard you like "Candy" and "Ice Cream". Just substitute "Penis" for "Ice Cream" and you will see why substituting something only tangentially similar to something else in a sentence is a bad idea.

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jeff4747 (256583) on Monday August 30, 2010 @05:40PM (#33420286)

    Until they have a cerebral cortex? But they'll have one if you don't stop it from developing

    Actually, when it comes to stem cell research, they'll never have a cerebral cortex. That's 'cause the stem cells are left over from IVF treatment. Abortion only enters the picture because the anti-abortion people have decided to make stem cell research part of their cause, not because the stem cells are connected to abortions.

  • by jeff4747 (256583) on Monday August 30, 2010 @05:43PM (#33420326)

    You do realize that these embryos are going to be destroyed, whether or not any science is done with them, right?

    Embryos used for research are left over from IVF treatments. If they aren't used for stem cell research, they are incinerated with the rest of the bio waste.

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jd (1658) <imipak@yahoo.cEINSTEINom minus physicist> on Monday August 30, 2010 @05:49PM (#33420388) Homepage Journal

    I'm positive. If the brain's gender is determined by non-genetic means, then genetic tests won't be capable of determining the brain's gender. There may be other tests that can be performed early on - I'm unsure just how visible the structural differences would be at an early stage of development and 9.2T MRI scans are probably inadvisable - but genetic tests won't be amongst them. Notice I said "if" both here and in my prior post. This is all conditional on this being the mechanism. If it is not the mechanism, then clearly all that follows does not apply.

    Designer babies already exist to some extent and this trend looks set to continue. It is way, way too late to stop that train. At this point, the smart thing to do would be to tackle ignorance and prejudice. Even if you could legislate for or against specific types of manipulation or test, someone will find a loophole. To block the abuse of this sort of biotechnology through legislation is pointless. It's like trying to stamp out a forest fire - the most you'll do is temporarily put out a small branch before getting incinerated. Undercutting the attitudes which create the demand in the first place - that's where extremists are the most vulnerable and that is the only place any real answer will be found.

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Monday August 30, 2010 @07:11PM (#33421166) Journal

    This is a lawsuit that cites Federal statutory law which Obama signed [].

  • Re:Buy one get one? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jeff4747 (256583) on Monday August 30, 2010 @11:50PM (#33423152)

    If you want one human, create one embryo.

    Let me just quote myself again:

    remember, this is biology here and nothing is ever 100%.

    It is literally impossible to guarantee a single embryo with IVF. And it will continue to be so. First, nothing in biology is ever 100%. Second, the in vivo fertilization process can not guarantee a single embryo. If it doesn't work that way within a human, why do you expect to work differently in a test tube?

    I'd be surprised to find we do so without consent. But if we do, we should probably stop.

    Hey now! No moving the goalposts. Consent was never mentioned in your definition of what's alive.

  • by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamc@gm a i l .com> on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @07:48AM (#33425066) Journal

    "creationist, then refuse any treatment...."

    Newton was a young earth creationist.

    While I won't ask you to float away, you should at the very least not use any GPS devices, should route your internet traffic over copper alone (not fiber, certainly not satellite), must not use cars, or anything that makes use of our knowledge of the laws of motion.

    Go on, be consistent yourself!

Make sure your code does nothing gracefully.