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The market is dropping all around us, and it's taking with it many of the stocks that we've watching for years.

Shares of Advanced Cell Technology (OTCBB: ACTC) had been trading for months between seventeen and nineteen cents before trading down with the market towards the end of the third quarter and closed Monday at just a hair over thirteen cents.

Nearly a year ago news that the FDA had given the 'green light' for ACT to move forward with an historic trial testing its stem cell technology in those with conditions of severe vision loss sent ACTC soaring from well below a dime to nearly thirty cents. The new year opened with another announcement that the FDA gave the go-ahead for a second trial utilizing its RPE stem cell line.

Until these announcements, only Geron (GERN) had previously received FDA approval to conduct trials using embryonic stem cell technology.

That news a year ago put this company on the map and - regardless of whether its technology makes it to market - cemented its place in the history of embryonic stem cell research.

All of these positive developments, however, do not leave ACT immune to the effects of the current economic downturn and market selloff.

What's left for the investor to decide, is whether it's safer to run for the hills or to hang around and maybe pick up a few of these sliding shares.

Granted, the news wires regarding ACT have been dull since late last year when the real catalysts hit, but those 'dead periods' often provide the best times to accumulate a speculative stock, since no one is generally paying attention to much and the traders are looking for tomorrow's gold mine, not the gold mine of years to come.

Lately, however, there has been some encouraging news coming from the ACT HQ.

A couple of weeks ago the company announced that it had received approval from the medical authorities in the UK to commence a Phase I/II trial testing its RPE line in Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy (SMD), the same indication for which the FDA approved last November in the US.

Although not a catalyst on the scale it was a year ago, this is another milestone event for ACT. It offers the company and its technology global appeal and gives it an initial foothold in Europe.

In discussing the significance of the UK green light and potential market for this treatment, Dr. Robert Lanza, M.D., ACT's Chief Scientific Officer had this to say:

"This is the first time an embryonic stem cell trial has ever been approved anywhere else in the world. Stargardt’s disease is currently untreatable, and is one of the leading causes of juvenile blindness in the world. Collectively, degenerative eye diseases afflict over 25 million people in the U.S. and Europe alone."

The UK approval was worthy of a mention in the Financial Times.

Back on the mainland, encouraging news regarding the US trials was also made public during the closing days of September. An independent monitoring board overseeing the trials gave ACT the authorization to proceed with administering its treatment to the next patients, after deeming the procedure safe for the first patient treated in each trial.

Not receiving as much attention as the RPE line this year, ACT also has an embryonic line of hemangioblast cells. An announcement was made in mid September that ACT had secured its first patent for this line. According to an 18 September press release, ACT holds an exclusive license to commercialize the patented technology in North America through an agreement with Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine International (SCRMI), a joint venture between ACT and CHA Bio & Diostech Co, Ltd (CHA Biotech), a leading South Korean biotechnology company.

Still in the preclinical stages of development, an IND is expected to be filed with the FDA within months. It's possible, as well, that this line has even more potential than the RPE line, as noted in additional comments by Dr. Lanza:

"These hemangio-colony forming cells are one of the most powerful types of cells known. They are useful in a variety of clinical settings, such as providing transfusable blood and platelets for emergency medical situations. Our preclinical research has also shown that hemangioblasts can repair vascular damage, including complications associated with diabetes, heart disease, and peripheral artery disease."

As the market drops, it's time to take a closer look at each of the companies that we've held on the watch list, and then re-evaluate whether or not it's 'buy time'. I'm still a believer that it's not wise to jump into a stock all at once, especially when it's dropping, but staggered buys on the way down could pay off very well if/when news develops to support a spike or the market turns around altogether.

While there might be some short term peaks and valleys to take advantage of with some trading shares (GERN has demonstrated over the years just how high hype can take a speculative stem cell stock), an investment in ACT is generally and investment in the future of embryonic stem cell research - which could turn out to be the 'next big thing' in medicine.

Advanced Cell will be in the spotlight this week in SoCal, as its Chairman and CEO, Gary Rabin, will be presenting at the 2011 World Stem Cell Summit on in Pasadena on Oct. 5.

Still a nice speculative buy, in my opinion, especially since the market brought this one down to earth.

And on that note, how about some GERN as well?

Disclosure: Long ACTC, GERN.

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