05/24/2011 03:20 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2011

Not Too Late to Fight for Cure: Make California the Spinal Cord Injury Research Center of the World

As you read this, I am probably on the road to Sacramento, driving to the state capitol to pester the politicians one more time before they vote. More accurately, I hope to be talking to the legislative aides, the behind-the-scenes folks who so often determine the success or failure of a bill.

This Friday, a crucial bill, AB 190 (Wieckowski, D-Fremont), will be voted on in the powerful Appropriations Committee.

AB 190 would give renewed life to the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act, one of the most effective research programs ever done.

If this bill passes, California could well become the spinal cord injury research center of the world.

Here are ten reasons to vote yes.

1. With zero cost to taxpayers, AB 190 will fund California's highly successful Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999, named after a paralyzed Californian.

2. AB 190 will impose a $3 penalty on all moving traffic violations. As car crash is a major (46%) cause of spinal cord injury, violators should help solve the problem they inflict on others.

4. Operated by the University of California system, the program already has its core lab and headquarters set up at the Reeve-Irvine Research Institute, UC Irvine.

5. California will continue to profit financially. A "money magnet," the Act attracted $64 million in new revenues from the National Institutes of Health and other out-of-state sources.

6. The biomedical industry, mainstay of the California economy, also benefits; biomed companies (like California Stem Cells, Inc.) spring from successful scientists' advances.

7. Although "Roman's Law" funded the first use of President Bush's approved stem cell lines, leading to Geron's historic human trials, AB 190 does not focus on stem cells, and has not funded any such research since 2008. Instead, we concentrate on the "everything else" that is needed for cure: including ways to turn on the body's natural repair engines, and turn off the "inhibitors" of cure; to ease life-threatening blood-pressure changes; diminish the "secondary injury" that often doubles the damage to the spine; build biological "bridges" for new nerves to grow across; to diminish chronic pain, restore bowel and bladder control, and much more.

8. In 175 peer-reviewed publications, Roman's law has advanced the field of neurology, with "carry-over" impact on other conditions, including ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Traumatic Brain Injury, Multiple Sclerosis -- indeed, one treatment developed for Spinal Cord Injury is now in human trials for Irritable Bowel Syndrome!

9. Practical applications range from small to staggering: a new Petri dish (patent pending) that sorts cells by electrical potential; a helmet-glove device to return the power of grip to frozen fingers; robotic "boots" to lower rehabilitation costs; a way to harness brainwaves, so a completely paralyzed person can operate a computer by thought alone; even a new paralysis "model," humanely designed so a monkey would have just one finger paralyzed.

10. The problem AB 190 addresses is enormous. An estimated 5.6 million Americans suffer paralysis today: California has roughly 650,000 paralyzed individuals. The financial costs are staggering. New paralysis sufferers face bills averaging $775,000 in the first year alone, and are an immense and continual drain on Medi-Cal and Medicare. The agony of individuals and the stress on their families cannot be calculated.

For more information, contact: Jeff Barbosa.