Stem cell funding clearance lifts biopharma companies


On Monday, President Barack Obama signed an order lifting restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. Despite many beliefs to the contrary, no ban on stem cell research exists; only a ban on its public funding. In 1996 Congress banned public funding on the creation of new embryonic stem cells or on destruction of embryonic stem cells for research. In August 2001, President Bush has allowed research funding on existing embryonic cells (created by private funding).

Many scientists believe Bush's policies instigated years of stagnation in this crucial area of research, believed to be able to one day cure many diseases, while others oppose the use from ideological reasons. The use of adult stem cell has been suggested as replacement to embryonic ones, but reprogramming adult stem cells to the embryonic state required for science is still quite new, leaving many unknowns. Scientists would like to move forward with both types of stem cell research, with the hopes that adult stem cells would eventually be sensible as a replacement, but thinking it is too early to abandon stem cells obtained from embryos.