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Californian stem cell institute receives $181 million in loans

27 November 2006
Appeared in BioNews 386

California's stem cell institute is to be given a cash injection of $181 million to fund research through to the end of next year. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) will be given a $150 million loan from the state and has raised the extra $31 million by selling bond anticipations to philanthropic organisations and individuals.

Californian voters approved Proposition 71- that permits CIRM to generate revenue to fund human embryonic stem cell research through the sale of state bonds- by a majority of 59 per cent back in 2004. The loans will allow CIRM to restart their research program, which has been stalled by lawsuits filed by two taxpayers' groups who argued that Proposition 71 was unconstitutional. Kirk Kleinschmidt, CIRM's legislation and research policy director, said that if the lawsuits are defeated and the institute is allowed to sell state bonds, the loans will be repaid. However, if the lawsuits are successful, the loans will be considered donations, he said. Last April, California Superior Court Judge Sabraw threw out the lawsuits, ruling that the plaintiffs had failed to show that Proposition 71 was 'clearly, positively, and unmistakably unconstitutional'. The plaintiffs have since filed an appeal against the decision to the Californian Supreme Court.

Robert Keil, chair of CIRM, commented that, 'An overwhelming majority of Californians approved this stem cell research program nearly two years ago, but a handful of opponents temporarily blocked its progress in the courts', but with these loans, 'major stem cell research programs in this great state can now be funded'. State Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ordered the state loan, said the money 'keeps California on the forefront as a national leader in stem cell research...This life-saving science gives the strongest possibility and hope to the patients suffering from chronic and deadly illnesses...that we will one day find a cure'.

Meanwhile in Connecticut, grants amounting to $12m have been approved to researchers at the University of Connecticut to study human adult and embryonic stem cells. In June 2005, the state passed legislation to allow state funding for ES cell research after President Bush denied federal support for all new ES cell research in 2001. The applications for funding are the first to be made since the ten year $100 million program to fund stem cell research was approved.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
California OKs $150 million stem-cell research loan
Yahoo news |  20 November 2006
Connecticut Stem Cell Research Committee Sends 12M to University
Life News |  21 November 2006
State OKs loan to aid stem cell research center
Kaiser Network |  21 November 2006
Stem-cell institute gets loans
Mercury News |  20 November 2006
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