CA stem cell institute gives $200M in research grants

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MADISON, WI - MARCH 10: Jessica Dias, associate research specialist, at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center at University Wisconsin-Madison removes a new batch of Embryonic Stem Cells from deep freeze to be thawed before being worked on March 10, 2009 in Madison, Wisconsin. On March 9, 2009 President Barack Obama signed an order reversing the Bush administration's limits on human embryonic stem cell research.

California’s Institute for Regeneratiave Medicine Wednesday awarded more than $200 million in research grants. Officials with the agency targeted research projects that could yield potential treatments for chronic and deadly diseases within the next four years.

Scientists who got the grants are doing research on stem cell treatments for heart disease, HIV/AIDS, juvenile diabetes, and cancer. Officials with the Center for Regenerative Medicine say the projects that got the grants could advance to clinical trials in the next four years.

Doctor Eduardo Marban at Cedars Sinai Medical Center is doing research that uses a patient’s own stem cells to repair the heart after cardiac arrest or heart failure. "Those stem cells that come from a patient’s own heart are predestined to repair damage," he says. "That’s what they are there for.

"They’re insufficient in number to deal with heart failure and heart attacks. But we grow them in large numbers and put them back in, and then they take root and make the heart work more strongly."

Paula Cannon got a grant for her stem cell research project at USC to fight HIV/AIDS. "And the idea from it really came from nature."

Cannon says 1 percent of the population is naturally immune to HIV/AIDS. She says that’s because they are missing the protein that allows HIV to enter a cell, so she says the virus can’t spread in them.

Her research team is trying to copy that. They’re taking stem cells from a patient’s body and eliminating the protein that’s like the gateway for HIV. Researchers expect when they put the cells back into a patient’s body, those cells would now keep HIV out.

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