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California okays stem cell money

28th March 2007

California's voter-created stem cell institute has approved a US$2.6-million grant to a Los Angeles research insitute to try to develop a line of human embryonic stem cells for use in the treatment of the fatal motor neuron disease known as Lou Gehrig's.

The agency was created by voters under Proposition 71 in 2004 to award US$3 billion in grants, funded by bonds, for stem cell research,

The funding applications were ranked by a committee of scientists from other states and patient advocates from the institute's citizen oversight board, before being voted on by the full oversight board.

The type of research proposed by the CHA Regenerative Medicine Institute in its grant application--somatic cell nuclear transfer, or therapeutic cloning--uses unfertilized eggs.

Genetic material is taken from the eggs and replaced by the genetic material from a patient's cell. Then the egg must be coaxed into dividing as if it had been fertilized. The reconstructed egg is then allowed to develop to the embryo stage.

Stem cell lines derived from it are genetically identical to the patient's. The CHA proposal would use a patient with Lou Gehrig's disease as a donor, thus creating a line of stem cells with the disease that could be used to study it and test treatments.

 

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