BALTIMORE (AP) _ A Maryland stem cell commission handed out its first research grants, supporting work ranging from facial reconstruction to spinal cord repair.
Two dozen Maryland researchers, more than half affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, were chosen Thursday from among 86 applicants.
``By funding basic and translational research with high scientific merit, it is our goal to help support cutting edge science in the state, and bring new treatments to patients,'' Linda Powers, Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission chairwoman, said in a news release.
State lawmakers established the $14 million fund last year. The grants awarded Thursday could total $5.2 million in the first two years and $3.5 in the third.
Maryland is among a number of states that have approved funding for stem cell research, including embryonic stem cells, following federal restrictions on the research. Under the Maryland legislation, all work must be done in Maryland by Maryland-based institutions.
Supporters say stem cells hold the promise of treating or curing many diseases because the cells _ created in the first days after conception _ form all organs and tissues in the body. Opponents note embryos, primarily unused embryos from fertility clinics, must be destroyed to obtain the embryonic stem cells.
Of the Maryland grants, 15 went to Hopkins affiliated researchers, eight to University of Maryland affiliated researchers, and one to a researcher from a private company.
Seven of the proposals, eligible for up to $500,000 a year for three years, involve research that already has some history in the laboratory.
For example, Dr. Angelo H. All, of Hopkins' Whitaker Biomedical Engineering Institute, was awarded a grant to study the use of embryonic stem cells in treating spinal cord injuries in a rat model.
Seventeen proposals received grants worth up to $100,000 a year for two years. Those grants went to investigators new to the field or to new ideas in the field, including a grant to Dr. John Fisher, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, for work on the use of stem cells for regenerating human facial bone.