Despite the recent legal battles, the National Institutes of Health continues to approve new human embryonic stem cells (hESC) lines for federal funding. Last month, the agency approved 37 new hESC lines—more than any other month this year. There are now a total of 128 lines currently approved for federal funding—up from just 20 approved lines prior to President Barack Obama’s 2009 executive order to loosen stem cell regulations—with 37 more pending review.
The field’s exponential growth since the early part of the century is suggestive that it may one day rival the $300 billion prescription-drug market, Mark Monane, a Needham & Co. analyst, told Bloomberg. Though the industry is riddled with “sociopolitical risk,” he said, there is “a real opportunity to see if embryonic stem cells are going to work.”