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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Superman actor sues Bush officials
Reeve
Christopher Reeve predicts he will walk again
Paralysed actor Christopher Reeve has joined forces with scientists and is using the courts to try to overturn a US government decision to halt funding for stem cell research.

The lawsuit they have filed says that the Bush administration is doing "irreparable harm" to the prospects of producing new therapies for many killer diseases.

Reeve is a leading advocate of medical research in the US.

The US government has ordered a review of the issues surrounding stem cell use, and has stopped all its funding of research projects while this is undertaken.

The review was introduced in response to ethical fears over the harvesting of stem cells from embryos left-over after fertility treatments, and from aborted foetuses.

Stem cell therapies are considered promising in a number of different diseases, such as Parkinson's Disease, stroke and even certain forms of diabetes.

They are the body's "master cells", capable of growing into various different cell types. Doctors believe they could eventually prove a ready source of cells to replace those destroyed by disease.

Research advocate

However, there have been few, if any, trials in humans which have shown a clear benefit to the patient.

Christopher Reeve, left paralysed by a horse-riding accident, played the cartoon hero Superman in four movies.

He has been highly supportive of stem cell research, even though his type of injury is not the prime area of current interest in stem cell research.

He has predicted that scientific advances will allow him to walk again at some point, and his own charitable foundation is helping fund some research into spinal cord injury.

His and the other scientist's attorney, Jeffrey Martin, said: "We are not suggesting that the administration should begin funding projects immediately.

"We just want the process to move forward quickly, and with consideration of existing laws. We do not want delay because of politics."

The lawsuit claims that Bush officials have omitted administrative procedures necessary to halt research that federal statutes have made legal.

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