A US federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit that had temporarily blocked federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in what is a victory for the President Barack Obama administration.
Judge Royce Lamberth's summary judgment in favor of the government followed an appeals court decision in April that also ruled against plaintiffs who argued it was illegal to use taxpayer cash for research that destroys human embryos.
Obama lifted a ban on federal funding for the research in March 2009. His predecessor George W. Bush had blocked government funding for human embryonic stem cell research on new cell lines, citing religious grounds.
At issue in the latest court fight was a 1996 amendment to a US law called the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which barred using taxpayer funds in research that destroys embryos.
In August 2010, Lamberth, a US district court judge, took seriously a court challenge brought by two scientists who opposed the research and issued an order to ban federal money until the legal battle could be resolved.
A series of court decisions followed that temporarily lifted his ban. Wednesday's decision by Lamberth dismisses the case.
"Having carefully considered the motions, oppositions, replies, supplemental briefing, the entire record in this case, and the applicable law, the Court will grant defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and deny plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment," Lamberth wrote in his ruling.
The decision was immediately hailed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an international non-profit group which publishes the prestigious journal Science.
"The scientific consensus is that embryonic stem cell research is an extremely promising approach to developing more effective diagnostics and treatments for devastating conditions such as diabetes, spinal cord injuries and Parkinson's disease," said chief executive Alan Leschner.
"Judge Lamberth's injunction last year threatened to cause real harm to researchers in this field and discourage the next generation of stem cell scientists."