Stem Cell Research Measure Leading

A proposition that would keep alive California's first-of-its-kind stem cell research program with a $5.5 billion infusion of borrowed money had a narrow lead.

With about 11.3 million votes counted, approval for Proposition 14 was ahead 51.1% to 48.9% Wednesday morn.

If the proposition passes it would approve a bond sale that would bail out the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which was created by a similar $3 billion bond measure in 2014 but is now nearly broke. Millions more votes remained to be counted.

With dozens of clinical trials involving the use of stem cells to treat cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, paralysis, autoimmune diseases and other conditions underway at universities across California, supporters say it is crucial to keep that money flowing.

“Trials that use human embryonic derived stem cells to treat diabetes, to treat blindness and to treat spinal cord injury, those trials are early but already showing signs of patient benefit," said professor Larry Goldstein, who directs the stem cell research program at the University of California, San Diego. “Losing those trials would be a terrible tragedy for those patients.”

Opponents say the state simply can't afford to take on that kind of debt during a pandemic-induced economic crisis. What's more, they say, there isn't as much need for California to bankroll stem cell research now that the federal government and private investors have turned their attention to it.


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