Stem Cell Initiative: A Boost for Research and Silicon Valley
Opinion: Not only would the passage of a California ballot initiative mean $3 billion for stem cell research but it would also mean more opportunities for Silicon Valley.Given its scope, the amount of money thats to be raised and the election year politicking surrounding the topic, a California ballot initiative to raise $3 billion for medical stem cell research could easily become the focus point of a simmering national debate. The initiative, informally known as Prop 71, was launched by Silicon Valley real estate executive Bob Klein, whose son has diabetes. Klein and the organization hes started, Californians for Stem Cell Research and Cures, hope to get voter approval to authorize the state to sell $3 billion in bonds over the next 10 years. Sale of the bonds would provide approximately $295 million a year for research at state universities and other research institutions working with a new organization, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, created by the ballot initiative. The money is being raised and the institute created to compensate for a freeze on federal funding for stem cell research authorized by President Bush. The issue is something of a hot button for conservatives who question the ethics of using stem cells, which are, more technically, human cells that have not yet differentiated to form organs, bones or tissue. Scientists believe the cells can be used to help regenerate nerve cells and other damaged organs. Stem cells can be cultivated from umbilical cord blood, but more typically they are created in laboratory settings and taken from days-old human embryos. Prop 71 would permit the creation and destruction of those sorts of cells in state labs.
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