Now that President Obama has lifted the Bush-era ban on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, a portion of the $10 million allocated for medical research in the stimulus package will likely go towards funding stem cell research. While it may be years or even decades away, the hope is that furthering this type of research -- which only began in the late 1990s -- can result in huge medical breakthroughs.
The potential upshot is enormous in terms of saving lives -- and money spent on treatments. Stem cell research could cure or treat diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. But it also may speed efforts to fight spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the American Heart Association, about 128 million people suffer from diseases that might be cured or treated through stem cell research.