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UW-Madison gets $9 million from feds for stem cell study

The federal government is giving almost $9 million to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to further investigate a major stem cell discovery from last fall.

Three projects are aimed at putting last fall's discovery into action - the idea that reprogrammed human cells can be converted to embryonic stem cells without getting embryos involved.

The study was hailed by President Bush and pro-lifers who hoped it would lead to cures for major diseases like Alzheimer's, without having to snuff out human embryos in the process.

Now, federal health official Marion Zatz says the Wisconsin scientists will do cutting-edge research to address the most fundamental questions about stem cells.

They'll look at protein changes when embryonic stem cells develop into more specific human cell types.

They'll examine chemical changes that happen when stem cells are exposed to growth factors.

And the final study group will examine how proteins in embryonic stem cells behave like genetic switches and reprogram blood cells back to an embryonic state.