Obama set to lift stem cell research ban, biomedical sector rejoices

Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette’s arduous eight-year battle to repeal President George W. Bush’s 2001 executive order to restrict federal funding on embryonic stem cell research may be resolved with a similar flick of the presidential pen, said a top aide to Barack Obama.

David Axelrod told FOX News Sunday that Obama is considering overturning the directive that many considered a crass political gesture to energize Bush’s religious conservative base following the disputed 2000 election.

According to Reuters:

Scientists believe the research could eventually produce cures for a variety of diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, heart disease and spinal cord injuries.

Obama vowed to reverse Bush’s ban during his presidential campaign and in his inaugural address last month promised to return science to its proper place in the United States.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month cleared the way for the first trial to see if human embryonic stem cells could treat people safely.

The trial will try to use stem cells from already existing lines to regrow nerve tissue in patients with crushed spinal cords.

The announcement could come quickly on the heels of Obama’s visit to Denver Tuesday to enact the $787 billion stimulus bill that is expected to pump billions into the biomedical research sector.

The stock market analysis Web site Seeking Alpha.com claims “26 companies in the ETF Innovators Emerging Stem Cell Index … lost 7 percent of its market value in the past week (at 1,148 today) and posted a 15.2 percent loss over the past year on an equal-weight basis.”

Investors expect the stimulus to provide a big boost to the lagging regenerative medicine industry.

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Wendy Norris

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