A US appeals court overturns the hold on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research."We conclude the plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail," read the decision by the US Court of Appeals in Washington, referring to a coalition of groups that challenged the legality of the research because it involves the destruction of human life.
"We therefore vacate the preliminary injunction."
The ruling marked a major victory for the administration of President Barack Obama, which lifted a ban on federal funding for the research in March 2009.
Former president George W. Bush had blocked government finding for human embryonic stem cell research on religious grounds.
In August 2010, US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth took seriously a court challenge brought by a coalition of groups that opposed the research and argued that a 1996 amendment to a US law, called the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, barred using taxpayer funds in research that destroys embryos.
Lamberth issued an order to ban federal money for the research until the court battle could be resolved.
A series of court decisions followed that temporarily lifted his ban, but Friday's decision put an end to the matter by vacating it altogether.
"Because Dickey-Wicker is ambiguous and the NIH seems reasonably to have concluded that, although Dickey-Wicker bars funding for the destructive act of deriving an ESC (embryonic stem cell) from an embryo, it does not prohibit funding a research project in which an ESC will be used," read the decision.
Researchers say stem cells, the foundation for all human cells, provide promising avenues for scientists and could lead to cures for paralysis, blindness and some chronic diseases.