Mon Mar 9, 2009 6:24pm EDT
By David Alexander
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama lifted restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research on Monday, angering abortion opponents but cheering those who believe the study could produce treatments for many diseases.
“We will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research,” Obama said to vigorous applause at a White House gathering.
“We will also vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield.”
Shares of companies specializing in stem cell research burst upward on the news, with Geron Corp (GERN) up by as much as much as 35 percent and StemCells Inc (STEM) up 73 percent at one point. Other related company shares rose, too.
The decision was a clear repudiation of the approach taken by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. U.S. law limits the use of federal money to make human stem cells, but Bush tightened the restrictions even further to include work using such cells.
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