Top aide: Obama to lift stem cell ban "soon"

Choked for funding in recent years, stem cell researchers had some encouraging news over the weekend. On "Fox News Sunday," Top Obama aide David Axelrod confirmed that the president is expected to act soon on a campaign pledge to lift a federal spending ban on embryonic stem cell research.

The move is widely expected to give a timely boost to the biotech industry with a funding windfall, fueling innovation and job growth at facilities across the country.

The ban, imposed eight years ago by President Bush, severely limited funding for stem cell R&D, which scientists believe could eventually lead to cures for Parkinson's disease, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other illnesses.

"The president is considering that right now," Axelrod said over the weekend.

Stem cell research is contentious because it involves the destruction of embryos, which anti-abortion groups consider human life. In August 2001, Bush signed an executive order barring the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. The ban extended to the use of any lab equipment paid for by federal funds, forcing many researchers to buy costly duplicates.