Stem-cell firms surge as Obama fuels funding hopes
By Esha Dey
BANGALORE Nov 10 (Reuters) - Shares of companies developing therapies based on stem cells surged on Monday, after confirmation over the weekend that U.S. president-elect Barack Obama plans to reverse an existing executive order against federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research.
Companies such as Geron Corp (GERN.O: Quotazione) and StemCells Inc STEM.O saw a sharp rise in their stock price as investors rushed to be a part of a field that holds significant commercial potential.
"People now know what the future executive landscape is going to look like, and they are trying to figure out how to profit from it," WBB Securities analyst Steve Brozak said.
Stem cells are the body's master cells, giving rise to tissues, organs and blood. Scientists hope to harness their power to transform medicine, to repair devastating injuries, replace the brain cells lost in Parkinson's disease, cure juvenile diabetes, or treat diseases such as Alzheimer's.
But research related to embryonic stem cells has been under political scrutiny for a long time due to ethical issues, as it involves the destruction or manipulation of human embryos.
Republican President George W. Bush had vetoed bills to expand federally funded embryonic stem-cell research, and showed a preference towards adult stem-cell research that is considered more ethical by many conservative voters.
Among the several types of stem cells, embryonic stem cells, derived from days-old embryos, are considered to hold the most potential as they can give rise to all the cell types in the body. But applications for adult stem cells are considered limited as they do not live in the body for long.
A reversal of President Bush's long-standing policy, which restricts funding for stem-cell research, by Democrat Obama would give a boost to companies seeking to develop therapies based on that research. Continua...