Missouri voters appear to have approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday that prevents state lawmakers from banning federally authorized embryonic stem cell research and treatments.

With 98 percent of the precincts reporting, 51.1 percent of the votes were cast in favor of Amendment 2 and 48.9 percent opposed it. Almost 2.1 million votes were counted.

The promise of embryonic stem cell research has prompted Kansas Citians Jim and Virginia Stowers, founders of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, to donate $27 million of the $28.7 million raised for the pro-Amendment 2 campaign. If Amendment 2 had failed, the Stowers Institute probably would have expanded outside the state.

Companies such as Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. are supporting adult and embryonic stem cell research.

Opponents of the measure stressed that it was deceptive because it claimed to ban human cloning while actually giving constitutional protection to a method of producing embryonic stem cells called somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT.

Link [kansascity.bizjournals.com/kansascity/stories/2006/11/06/daily21.html?jst=b_ln_hl]