President Obama's 2009 Executive Order allowing the National Institutes of Health to support and fund research using human embryonic stem (hES) cells remains in effect as of last Thursday's ruling by the District of Columbia Circuit Court. The three judge panel agreed with the lower District Court's previous ruling that stem cell funding does not contradict Congress' 1996 Dicker-Wickey Amendment in the appropriations budget which prohibits use of federal money to create or destroy human embryos.
Just after it issued in 2009, James Sherley and Theresa Deisher sued to block the Executive Order overturning the previous administration policy and permitting embryonic stem cell research. The plantiffs claimed that funding research using hES cell lines indirectly destroys embryos to create the stem cell lines or, at least, puts embryos at risk by incentivizing their destruction to create more embryo-derived cell lines.
James Sherley, a senior scientist at the Boston Biomedical Research Medical Institute focuses his research exclusively on adult stem cells. In a New York Times article about the lawsuit a few years ago, Dr. Sherley coined the term 'embryoism' to compare the destruction of human embryos with discrimination against people of different colors or races. The same article also mentioned that he expressed concern in the court documents that the decision to fund research using hES cells will increase competition for limited stem cell resources and could threaten his research program funding.
Theresa Deisher was vice-president of R&D at Cellcyte corporation until she resigned in 2007, then went on to found Ave Maria Biotechnology (aka., AVM Biotechnology) whose mission is the, "discovery, development and commercialization of safe, effective and ethical stem cell technologies." Dr. Deisher also founded the non-profit Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute whose mission is to "promote public awareness about the widespread use of electively aborted fetal material in drug discovery, development and commercialization." The group also asserts their research indicates a link between increases in autism and vaccines produced using fetal cells. Both enterprises share the same address.
Following this ruling, Drs. Sherley and Deisher have 45 days to request an appeal to either the full Circuit Court of Appeals or directly to the US Supreme Court.