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After the lawsuit, what's next for stem cell research?

One week ago, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit against government funding for human embryonic stem cell research. But, as Nature's Meredith Wadman is reporting, the field remains vulnerable:

...[R. Alta Charo, JD] who studies law and bio­ethics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison] notes that the current US Congress is so politically divided it is unlikely to enact a law either explicitly permitting or explicitly prohibiting government funding for the research. But, she says, "nothing in this decision and nothing in the Dickey–Wicker amendment" stops a new president from quashing research simply by refusing to fund it. [Stanford's Hank Greely, JD] says that the best way to protect the research "is to get some real medical progress with stem cells" to prove the worth of the field.

This may prove difficult in the short-term though, as the field took a hit from the funding threat:

Although NIH approval of new stem-cell lines has resumed, and even accelerated (see 'Bouncing back'), some say that it will take years to recover from the impact of the shutdown. Scientists who left the field in the interim might never return.

"Things have changed permanently. It's not just going to go back to the way it was — not immediately," says Meri Firpo, who researches stem-cell therapies at the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute in Minneapolis.

Previously: Stanford law professor on embryonic stem cell ruling, Judge Lamberth dismisses stem cell lawsuit, Stem cell funding injunction overturned by federal court and NIH intramural human embryonic stem cell research halted

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