San Diego Business Journal

President Barack Obama lifted eight-year-old restrictions March 9 that have kept federal funds from flowing into research on human embryonic stem cells.

Fulfilling a campaign pledge, the president signed an executive order ending restrictions put in place by former President George W. Bush.

A Bush directive limited the use of taxpayer money to 21 stem cell lines created before the August 2001 decision. Bush and his supporters said they were defending human life , days-old embryos typically from fertility clinic leftovers otherwise destined to be thrown out, which are destroyed for the stem cells.

A reversal will allow local research labs to apply for federal funding that could push new discoveries in disease areas such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes.

Evan Snyder, who leads the Burnham Institute for Medical Research's stem cell program, said the lifting of the ban "sent a very important symbolic gesture that the Obama administration values science" and will craft policies based on data "rather than preexisting ideology."

Besides academic institutions, companies providing stem cell lines and tools for human embryonic stem cell research could also benefit from the shift in federal spending.

, Heather Chambers