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San Diego Groups Get New Stem Cell Funding

San Diego research groups have received tens of millions of dollars in state funding for new stem cell research.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine announced more than $250 million in research grants. UCSD received $20 million to study possible treatments for Leukemia. UCSD and the Salk Institute together got more than $15 million to study Lou Gehrig's disease.

Stem cells are immature cells that that can, theoretically, be engineered to become any cell in the body. Sam Pfaff, a professor at Salk, said he wants to find a way turn stem cells into healthy astrocytes, which nourish the motor neurons that are killed by Lou Gehrig's disease.

"If we can replace defective astrocytes with normal astrocytes, we can greatly extend the survival of moter neurons," said Pfaff.

San Diego's Burnham Institute received part of a $19 million grant to try to create cells that can carry tumor-killing drugs.

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