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A US court on Monday issued a temporary halt to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research which President Barack Obama had authorized, saying it involved the destruction of human embryos.

US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled in favor of a Christian group that opposes the research, issuing a temporary injunction that will allow plaintiffs to bring their lawsuit before the court.

“ESC (embryonic stem cell) research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed,” the judge said.

“To conduct ESC research, ESCs must be derived from an embryo. The process of deriving ESCs from an embryo results in the destruction of the embryo. Thus ESC research necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo,” he added.

In March, Obama lifted a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, lauding potential medical breakthroughs and a new era for US science shorn of political ideology.

The president’s executive order reversed predecessor George W. Bush’s ban, which critics say hampered the fight to find treatments for grave diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes.

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