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Stem Cell Surge Will Help San Diego's Economy

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San Diego's struggling economy is about to receive a stem cell shot in the arm. Hundreds of millions of dollars will soon be helping local businesses, research clinics and the patients they serve.

Facing a precursor to cancer, 67-year-old Sabin Mroz says thanks to a stem cell study drug, he's feeling much better.

"It's the cutting edge of what works," he said.

At the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, Dr. Catriona Jamieson, director of stem cell research, is using science to save lives.

"It's really exciting, yes, I think this is the beginning of a new era for medicine," she said.

When it comes to stem cell research, San Diego County is ranked among the top three biotech clusters in the nation.

"Medicine miracles do not happen by accident," Dr. Jamieson said.

When President Obama recently decided to lift federal funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, Robert Klein, chairman of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, celebrated at the White House.

"This was a critical moment where a president standing up to make sure that medical science was not bound up by ideology, it was a break from the past. We are freed from the Middle Ages," he said.

Klein says by lifting George Bush's executive order to restrict federal funding, money will begin to pour into the local economy.

"It could be a couple of hundred million dollars' shot in the arm, but more importantly for all those patients in San Diego of many diseases," Klein said.

Patients like Theresa Blanda, who for four years was losing the fight to bone marrow disease.

"I came here in November using a walker," she said.

After just four months of taking a stem cell study drug, she's feeling great.

"This is a godsend, that's all I can say for it. There needs to be more of it," she said.

In the bigger picture, according to CIRM, that stem cell flow of money will exceed $1.1 billion to the state of California over the next two years.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was formed in 2005 following the passage of Proposition 71. Since then, they've funded more than $635 million worth of stem cell projects.

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