By Sally Lehrman
It has been six years since California voters, awed by Proposition 71’s list of potential cures for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more than 70 other conditions, approved $3 billion in funding for stem cell research in the state. It has been nearly as long since Geron Corp. proclaimed that the first-ever human test of embryonic stem cells was nigh.
Since then, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, created by that 2004 ballot initiative, has handed out more than $1 billion in research funding. But there have been no “miracles” — no paralyzed people abandoning their wheelchairs or diabetics throwing away their needles. There hasn’t even been a human trial of embryonic stem cells, those amazing shape-shifters that can grow into any cell in the body.