Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Looking to the Future with Eye on Stem Cells

Massachusetts has a proud history. Gov. Deval L. Patrick wants to secure a bright future for the Bay State, too.

Patrick has announced a plan to promote biotechnology and stem-cell research in Massachusetts. His ambitious 10-year plan, which would be backed by $1 billion, seeks to attract new business and industry to a state already rich with research and education. The governor said he wants to see Massachusetts compete with California on the biotech front.

His plan, which is likely to be supported by the great majority of the state's lawmakers, would bring Massachusetts into the forefront of a field which will doubtless grow exponentially as the 21st century matures.

Research into stem cells, of course, may yield cures for numerous injuries and diseases. Diabetes and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases may one day be curable thanks to work done on embryonic stem cells. Patients with spinal cord injuries - to name but one other area - could also find that stem cells hold the keys to a remedy.

But it is not the medical possibilities alone that make stem-cell research so tantalizing. Stem-cell research and other biotech industry are also big - and increasingly important - businesses.

If Massachusetts can become the biotech capital of the East - or at least one of the centers of biotech work - the Bay State's economy would get a serious boost.

This is not going to happen tomorrow. Or next week. But it will not happen at all unless something is done to get the biotech industry off the ground in Massachusetts.

Patrick announced the plans on Tuesday at the BIO International Convention in Boston. He told attendees:

"We want Massachusetts to provide the global platform for bringing your innovations from the drawing board to the market, from inspiration to commercialization, from ideas to cures."

These are exciting times for the Bay State, from the capital to Western Massachusetts. While most others are wondering about what the future may hold in store, Massachusetts will be playing a major role in helping to shape it.

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