Stem-Cell Stocks Thanking Frist

The Senate majority leader says he can support U.S. funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
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Stem-cell company stocks soared Friday after Senate majority leader Bill Frist said he would support U.S. funding for embryonic stem-cell research -- a position that puts the Tennessee Republican at odds with the White House.

Shares of embryonic stem-cell company

Geron

(GERN) - Get Report

were up 81 cents, or 7.9%, to $11.02.

Not surprisingly, companies using adult-derived stem cells also felt a pull.

Aastrom Biosciences

(ASTM)

was up 11% to $3.37, and

StemCells

(STEM)

shares were up $1.29, or 25%, to $6.52. Trading volume was heavy in the stem-cell shares.

In 2001, President Bush limited federal support for embryonic stem-cell research to existing stem-cell lines. In a speech on the Senate floor Friday, Frist, a heart and lung transplant surgeon, said embryonic stem cells hold promise that adult stem cells do not.

While adult stem cells, such as those derived from bone marrow, nasal cavities and other areas, can only give rise to specific types of cells, embryonic stem cells have more potential for specialization.

Separately, StemCells released its quarterly results Friday, reporting a loss of $3.9 million, or 6 cents a share, for the second quarter. A year ago, the company lost $3.3 million, or 8 cents a share. Revenue totaled $36,000, six times that of the year-ago quarter, primarily from grants and licensing agreements.