WHAT IS CALIFORNIA’S ROLE IN STEM CELL RESEARCH GLOBALLY?
California’s Proposition 71 is a unique initiative that funds scientific research on a scale normally limited to the federal government and establishes stem cell research as a right in the California state constitution. The proposition established the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM, and authorized it to give $3 billion worth of grants over ten years. The effort has placed California at the top of stem cell research worldwide, with CIRM becoming the largest single source of stem cell research grants other than the US federal government.
WHAT IS UC IRVINES’S ROLE IN STEM CELL RESEARCH GLOBALLY?
The Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center at UC Irvine is a world leader in research, having developed the first federally approved human trial of an embryonic stem cell treatment. UC Irvine is also pioneering research into stem cell therapies for Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, retinitis pigmentosa, and multiple sclerosis.
WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR IN STEM CELL RESEARCH?
Researchers have made many promising discoveries in both the creation of stem cells and their use in therapy. Stem cells have been used in animal tests to successfully treat spinal injuries, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and many other diseases. This research has paved the way for human trials of stem cell therapy. Bone marrow transplants, which are a form of stem cell therapy, have been used effectively in the treatment of leukemia for over 30 years.
WHAT DOES THE NEAR FUTURE HOLD?
Some of UC Irvine’s most exciting advances are in human clinical trials right now. These trials are a critical landmark in bringing therapies into general use. Two separate human trials seek to heal injured spinal cords, and trials for diabetes and stroke sufferers have been approved. Researchers at UC Irvine have also used stem cell therapies to effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease in animals, a critical milestone in taking the treatment to humans.
WHAT IS THE LONG-TERM POTENTIAL FOR STEM CELL RESEARCH?
Stem cell research could forever alter the course of human suffering. Stem cells are a game-changer. Because they are the building blocks of the human body, stem cells could potentially cure nearly any human disease or injury.