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text logo for CIRM, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Backers of a California ballot initiative to provide $5.5 billion more for the state's cash-strapped stem cell agency say they will take their first official step by the end of this month.

That's when they will submit the proposed measure to California election officials and trigger a many-months-long process. The effort is aimed at ensuring that the nearly 15-year-old research effort survives in a meaningful way beyond next year.

The stem cell agency, officially known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), expects to run out of money for new awards as early as late October. It has already cut off grant applications except for a joint sickle cell effort involving the National Institutes of Health.

Robert Klein, a Palo Alto real estate investment banker, and his stem cell advocacy group, Americans for Cures, are leading the way on the initiative. Melissa King, executive director of the organization, told the California Stem Cell Report last week that the wording of the initiative is still being crafted.

King said, however, that she expected the measure to be submitted to the California secretary...