Stem cell research has been a hot topic for quite a long time, but it has now become the center of attention as Democrats, who took both chambers of Congress for the first time in twelve years, have pledged to increase federal support for stem cell research. The House of Representatives passed a bill that would reduce restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Besides favorable public opinion, local and state governments appear to be jumping on the stem cell bandwagon and will be pushing in my more money in the research.
So what is a stem cell ??
A stem cell is a generic cell that can make exact copies of itself indefinitely. It is also a precursor cell that has the ability to make specialized cells for various tissues in the body (such as heart muscle, brain tissue and liver tissue). Stem cell research is expected to impact advances in curing diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, spinal cord injury, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and cancer.
There are 3 categories of stem cells:
Embryonic stem cells (found in the embryo tissues and enables differentiating into specialized embryonic tissues)
- Adult stem cells (found in adult tissues and acts as a repair system for the body and replenishes specialized cells)
- Cord blood stem cells (found in the umbilical cord)
As stem cells can be readily grown and transformed into specialised tissues such as muscles or nerves it has generated world-wide interest. However in U.S. there exists a widespread controversy over stem cell research due to the techniques used in the creation and usage of stem cells. Embryonic stem cell research is particularly controversial because currently it requires the destruction of a human embryo and/or cloning. Opponents of this research also argue that the practice is a slippery slope and experimenting with human cloning is against the natural biological process. Supporters of this research argue that it necessary to pursue embryonic stem cell research because the resultant technologies are expected to have significant medical potential, and that the embryos used for research are only those slated for destruction anyway. The ensuing debate has prompted authorities around the world to seek regulatory frameworks and highlighted the fact that stem cell research represents a social and ethical challenge.
Conclusion:With a strong support from the Democrats the stem cell legislation will see brighter days. With the inclusion of new non-controversial methods of obtaining stem cells, it is only a matter of time before stem cell companies end up with huge government funding for research.
Recommendation: With strong backing from the public and government, stem cell companies are expected to do good in the coming years. However these are early days for stem cell stocks and investors should be patient with them. Few companies i recommend to keep an eye on are Aastrom Biosciences Inc. ASTM and Stem Cells Inc. STEM