When California voters approved US$3 billion in funding for stem-cell research in 2004, biologists flocked to the state, and citizens dreamed of cures for Parkinson’s disease and spinal-cord injuries. Now, the pot of money — one of the biggest state investments in science — is running dry before treatments have emerged, raising questions about whether Californians will pour billions more into stem-cell research.
If they don’t, that could leave hundreds of scientists without support, and strand potentially promising therapies before they reach the market. “It’s an issue of great concern,” says Jonathan Thomas, chair of the board for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in Oakland.
Image: Xianmin Zeng/Buck Inst. Nerve cells derived from human stem cells, in work supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.