Stem cell dam broken?

Are approvals of stem cells now just benefitting our global competitors? Will President Obama formally change course? And do these therapies work?

 

From Geron video

  News that Geron Corp. can move to human trials of its paralysis treatment based on embryonic stem cells sent the stock skyrocketing today and led some to believe the war over stem cells is over.

Some analysts are quick to note that President Obama has not yet lifted the Bush Administration bans on most stem cell research.  But stock touts are now bullish on the sector.

Geron's work was actually ready for trial in 2005, and CEO Thomas Okarma has stated in a video that a lot of efforts have been stopped over the years. But that's only in the U.S. -- many patents have already been issued for use of stem cells in East Asia.

The actual impact of the therapy on the body is unknown. Its goal is to have the body produce myelin, the "insulation" around nerves that allows them to become useful. But all the company has said that in rats it worked better than a placebo.

But opponents are not going away. And the Geron approval doesn't directly address the Bush bans on use of stem cells, since the work was done with cells created before the ban took effect.

So advocates still have hurdles to cross. Are approvals of stem cells now just benefitting our global competitors? Will President Obama formally change course? And do these therapies work?

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