Deadline nears to fund stem cell research

Feb. 16, 2005 at 5:11 PM
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PALO ALTO, Calif., Feb. 16 (UPI) -- California has until May to start funding its $3 billion stem cell research program.

May is when Robert Klein, acting president of the newly organized California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, hopes to begin cutting the first checks, reports USA Today.

The program is part of Prop. 71, a 10-year tax-funded bond measure that voters approved in November.

The effort is practically an effort to create a California-based alternative to federally-funded research involving the use of human embryonic stem cells.

"I'm verging on complete mental exhaustion trying to get it right," says Klein. "I'm averaging 10 to 12 phone calls a day that have to get taken care of immediately, and then a few more to make sure the process keeps moving along."

Embryonic stem cells are all-purpose cells that scientists believe can be coaxed into forming any of the 200 or so cell types that make up the human body.

Many experts believe stem cells can help cure neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes and heart disease and have the potential to grow new organs for transplant that would not be rejected by the body.

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