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Stem-Cell Lab in California Is Planned

Advanced Cell is encouraged by a ballot initiative that would guarantee $3 billion in state funding to support the research.

September 30, 2004|From Bloomberg News

Advanced Cell Technology Inc., which conducts embryonic stem-cell research, plans to open a laboratory in California because the state supports the work, the company's chief medical officer said Wednesday.

California residents will vote in November on an initiative that would guarantee $3 billion in state funding over 10 years for stem-cell research including experiments using material from human embryos. The federal government is spending $24.8 million on embryonic stem-cell research this year.

"I think you are going to see a massive movement west" if the California measure passes, said Robert Lanza, vice president of medical and scientific development at Worcester, Mass.-based Advanced Cell.

Closely held Advanced Cell was the first company to clone a human embryo. President Bush allowed only limited funding for the research in 2001, citing ethical and religious concerns.

The California initiative, if approved, would create the largest source of funding for embryonic stem-cell studies, Lanza said.

He declined to give further details on the new facility.

Scientists say embryonic stem cells have the capacity to develop into any of the body's hundreds of tissue types. Proponents of the research say that one day, scientists may learn how to use the cells to treat spinal injuries or cure diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's.

Most opponents of stem-cell research say it is unethical because embryos are destroyed in the process used to isolate the special cells. Bush limited the research to about 60 existing stem-cell lines in 2001.

The U.S. government will spend $18 million over four years on National Institutes of Health centers to study stem cells. Last year, it funded $190 million in adult stem-cell research.

Advanced Cell reported success last week in coaxing embryonic stem cells to specialize into retinal cells, which it said might one day lead to treatments for forms of blindness.

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