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Stem Cell Research and President Obama

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted January 27, 2009

Just days after being sworn in, President Obama could change life as we know it… that is, should he lift the stem cell research funding ban.

And stem cell researchers are thrilled with the odds… Embryonic stem cell research has been plagued by limited funds since the 1990s, when Bill Clinton first blocked federal funding for the creation of embryos for stem cell research.  It faced another roadblock in August 2001, when George W. Bush reinforced the ban on federal funding by holding back funding for research on all but a few existing stem cell lines.

But with President Obama, that may all change.

Should Obama lift the ban on stem cell research, stem cell stocks could skyrocket, as a lifted ban would finally open the door to government funding.

And companies, like Geron (GERN) could benefit (even more than it already has.) after being granted FDA approval for research in patients with acute spinal cord injury.  If Geron can take off 44% last Friday, and another 15% on Monday (solely on news dissemination), just think of what could happen once a ban is lifted.

The news — Geron announced it received FDA approval for testing of its GRNOPC1 in patients with acute spinal cord injury.  GRNOPC1, according to Forbes:

"Uses living stem cells to reinsulated and stimulate function in nerves leading to the restoration of function in the nerve cells of the spinal cord. The early stage human study will test the safety of the process. While the goal of the study is to show safety, it will also be looking at whether GRNOPC1 improves neuromuscular control or if it improves sensation in the lower extremities."

Even options pits are getting excited about the news.  Shortly after the news, 10,000 February 5 calls, 31,079 February 7.50 calls, 9,000 February 10 calls, and thousands of contracts at March strikes were traded.  This could be a huge stock for 2009. 

And they have good reason to be excited.

Geron has plans to initiated Phase 1 trials of GRNOPC1 in thoracic cord injuries by the middle of 2009.  In this phase trial, Geron could inject up to 10 patients at seven medical facilities across the U.S. 

To take part in the study, patients must have documented, "complete" sub-acute thoracic spinal cord injuries.  And GRNOPC1 must be injected into the patient within two weeks of the injury.

"This marks the beginning of what is potentially a new chapter in medical therapeutics – one that reaches beyond pills to a new level of healing: the restoration of organ and tissue function achieved by the injection of healthy replacement cells. The ultimate goal for the use of GRNOPC1 is to achieve restoration of spinal cord function," said Geron president and CEO, Thomas Okarma. 

If Phase 1 is successful, the company has plans to move forward and treat cervical cord injury – a much larger market.  Buy Geron.  Hold it… and sit tight.  This could be huge.

Good Investing,

Ian L. Cooper