WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama used his executive powers to lift Bush-era restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research Monday.

The executive order will allow more federal money to be used in the research and reverses a Bush Administration policy enacted in 2001. The policy limited public money to research on a small amount of stem cells that were already created from destroyed embryos.

The change has attracted critics opposing the research on the basis that it is immoral to destroy human embryos. They believe stem cells from adult bone marrow, skin or placenta should be used instead.

However, the president and supporters hope a scientific breakthrough will be possible with more research. "Scientists believe these tiny cells may have the potential to help us understand, and possibly cure, some of our most devastating diseases and conditions," says President Obama.

The executive order will call on the National Institute of Health to revise guidelines on federal funding for stem-cell research within 120 days.