The Governor of the US state of New Jersey has announced the opening of a new stem cell research centre which will develop therapies using umbilical cord blood for spinal cord injuries. The Californian-based biotechnology firm, StemCyte, was given permission to open the facility in Ewing along with $589,000 worth of New Jersey state grants paid over ten years. The company has already entered into a research partnership with scientists from Rutgers University to use its stem cells in spinal cord therapy.
'We are committed to making sure New Jersey remains the medicine chest of the world, and that means that we have to take strong steps to move forward, even in difficult financial times', said Governor Jon Corzine. But some critics have pointed to his funding cuts elsewhere and have questioned his investment in stem cell research. 'The proposed state budget cuts, funding for higher education and the transportation trust fund is on the verge of bankruptcy,' said Jon Shure, president of the New Jersey Policy Perspective, adding: 'It would seem that investing in higher education and transportation are better ways to build the economy than writing checks to businesses.'
Corzine warmly welcomed StemCyte to New Jersey. 'The addition of StemCyte to our portfolio of companies represents an important economic investment that brings with it the promise of discovery and cures for some of our most devastating diseases and injuries,' he said. 'I am proud to welcome StemCyte to the Garden State'. Kenneth Giacin, chair and CEO of StemCyte was equally enthusiastic: 'Governor Corzine's plan for developing New Jersey as an active hub for stem cell research and therapeutics development was an important reason for our decision to move our East Coast operations to the state. We're pleased to become an integral part of New Jersey's life sciences community with our focus on therapies derived from umbilical cord blood.'
Corzine, who has donated around $150,000 himself towards stem cell research, attempted to pledge $450 million to the research last November only for voters to defeat the measure by a surprise 53 per cent majority at the ballot box. He has indicated that he will try again, however. Corzine had previously managed to get approved $270 million to expand stem cell research in New Jersey through the building of new research facilities, including the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, the building of which commenced late last year.