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Stem Cell Supporters Launch Ad Campaign

September 24, 2004|Eric Slater | Times Staff Writer

Backers of Proposition 71, which would provide more money for stem cell research in California in a single month than the federal government spent all of last year, unveiled a statewide television advertising campaign Thursday and pledged to stay on the air until the Nov. 2 election.

The ads, by a group called Yes on Proposition 71, feature several prominent physicians and researchers, as well as a mother with multiple sclerosis and her daughter, who is paralyzed -- both conditions that researchers believe stem cell studies might one day improve.

The four different ads in support of the proposition, called the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, suggest that the research is likely to provide profound medical breakthroughs, a contention that some scientists say is not yet clear. The ads stay away from another controversy surrounding stem cells: the fact that the ones of most interest come from human embryos.

Fiona Hutton, a spokeswoman for the proponents group, said the ads would begin airing today. She declined to say how much the group was spending on air time.

The brainchild of Palo Alto developer Robert Klein, whose son has Type 1 diabetes, Proposition 71 would provide about $300 million a year for 10 years to stem cell research, with the money coming from tax-exempt state bonds.

Numerous medical groups and foundations have come out in support of the proposition.

At the same time, some religious and social conservatives who oppose the use of human embryos in research -- and the idea of "therapeutic cloning" of stem cells to perhaps replace malfunctioning cells in a sick person -- have called for its defeat.

The controversy surrounding the nascent field has prompted the Bush administration to limit the number of stem cells that can be used for research.

In 2003, the federal government spent just $25 million on stem cell research.

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