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Friday, June 14, 2024

UW stem-cell team awarded grant

State Attorney General Jim Doyle announced Friday that the Justice Department would present UW-Madison stem-cell researchers with a $250,000 grant, marking the first time the state has provided money to be used for human embryonic stem-cell research. 




Researchers at UW-Madison's Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, including James Thomson, will be able to use the funds for research on any type of stem cells they choose, including primate stem cells, adult human stem cells and embryonic human stem cells, Doyle said Sunday.  




\This money will have no strings attached to it,"" he said. 




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Thomson led the team of scientists that became the first to successfully isolate human embryonic stem cells in 1998. Scientists hope to use stem cells to treat numerous human ailments, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. 




While the university has in the past funded research on primate stem cells, Doyle said this will be the first time state money has been made available to researchers for work on human embryonic stem cells. 




On Aug. 9, President Bush approved federal funding for stem-cell lines that existed prior to his decision, including five lines isolated by UW-Madison researchers led by Thomson. But the state grant announced Friday could also be used for cell lines developed after Aug. 9. 




""This money will probably be spent in research only involving [federally approved] lines, but if not, it's fine,"" Doyle said. 




Terry Devitt of UW-Madison University Communications said the grant would support ""basic research"" on primate or human stem cells. 




""You can go through $250,000 in a hurry in this business,"" Devitt said. 




The $250,000 grant is a portion of Wisconsin's $6.6 million share of the settlement of an antitrust lawsuit brought against six foreign vitamin manufacturers for conspiring to fix prices. As part of the settlement, 21 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico divided up $225 million. 




""[The grant is] not coming from the taxpayers of the state,"" Doyle said, adding that the terms of the settlement allow the state to use the money in any way ""that furthers the health and nutrition of the state."" 




Doyle said an advisory committee has been set up to determine how to allocate the rest of the settlement money and will announce its decisions in a few weeks. He said stem-cell researchers received the grant prior to the committee's decisions because of the promise stem-cell research holds for curing juvenile diabetes. 




""The university is doing some remarkable work in looking for cures for juvenile diabetes,"" he said.

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