From the Daily: Stem cell support needed

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published November 26, 2012

Four years ago, Michigan made an important step forward for science. The state passed Proposal 2, a 2008 ballot proposal, and ended the 30-year ban on embryonic stem cell line usage in Michigan. However, little progress has been made since then, as the state has not garnered the funding necessary to support these projects. Now Michigan is falling well behind the rest of the country and is stuck looking for ways to revive a depressed economy. Michigan and the University must make stem cell research a top priority, and allow it to jump-start the science economy.

In comparison to other states, Michigan has lagged behind in fundraising for stem cell research. Even after Proposal 2’s passage, Michigan has been slow to enact any significant changes due to a lack of interest from private investors. According to the Detroit Free Press, California provides $300 million yearly for stem cell research, and Ohio has been providing millions for similar research. California has gone further, adding $1.6 billion in new investments, which generates about 2,739 jobs annually.

Despite Michigan’s fundraising obstacles, the University has continued to be a leader in stem cell research. Since 2009, the University has made several significant strides. The National Institutes of Health added the stem cell line UM4-6 to its registry, along with two others that are pending NIH approval. Michigan must continue to be a leader, particularly since the state hasn’t received significant funding. As one of the world's largest research institutions, the University must help lead the state to its goals for stem cell research.

Evidently, with the vote in 2008, Michigan residents support stem cell research. However, the state needs to supplement the University’s efforts to innovate. The state must make a stronger effort to support stem cell research. The University performs research in embryonic, adult and reprogrammed cells and has developed eight lines of stem cells. The school's embryonic stem cell research may lead to more effective treatments for diseases such as juvenile diabetes, heart failure, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries.

Four years ago, Michigan made its voice heard, but the state did not respond. With one of the largest research institutions in its backyard, it's time for Gov. Rick Snyder to bring Michigan back into the stem cell research conversation. Improving stem cell research will have significant scientific benefits and improve the state’s economic status for many years to come.