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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 October, 2004, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Reeve stem cell appeal airs in US
Christopher Reeve
Christopher Reeve campaigned for stem cell use
A TV appeal on stem cell research recorded by Superman actor Christopher Reeve in the final few days of his life has begun airing in the US.

In the public service advertisement, Reeve urged voters in a forthcoming US state referendum to back the research.

Voters in California will decide the issue in a ballot on 2 November.

Reeve, 52, died of heart failure on 10 October, nine years after being paralysed by a spinal injury sustained in a horse riding accident.

An outspoken advocate of human embryonic stem cell research, he recorded the advert about a week before his death.

Stem cells
Stem cell use is controversial
"Stem cells have already cured paralysis in animals," he said in the advert. "Stem cells are the future of medicine. Please support (the ballot) and stand up for those who can't."

The California initiative has been backed by the state's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has broken ranks with his Republican party to support the move.

Stem cell research has become a major issue in the US presidential race.

Reeve's widow Dana has appeared with Democratic candidate John Kerry at a campaign rally to support his stance against President George W Bush's "ban" on research.

In 2001, Mr Bush prohibited the use of federal tax money in research on new stem cell lines, prompting criticism from the scientific community.

Under the California initiative, $3bn of state funds would be used to fund such research.

It would allow state taxpayers' money to be used to underwrite 10 years of research aimed at developing cures for Alzheimer's disease, spinal injuries and other illnesses.

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