The first part of New Jersey's new stem-cell research laboratory in Piscataway is now complete. Acting Gov. Richard Codey, who cut the ribbon Saturday during a dedication ceremony for the publicly funded center, said it would unlock "the potential to ease suffering, treat and cure diseases, and save lives."

Among the audience were families whose loved ones suffer from a variety of incurable ailments. Melissa Pitts, mother of a 6-year-old with a spinal-cord injury, said she hoped that research into embryonic stem cells would help her son get from his wheelchair to his bed without the help of an attendant. The center is scheduled to open in a few years.

The state, which hopes stem-cell research provides a boost to New Jersey's economy, will focus next on funding research. The Legislature is close to approving a ballot measure that would ask voters in November to set aside $300 million to $500 million for research, Codey said. Medical experts have seen great promise in embryonic stem-cell research. But social conservatives oppose it because it requires the destruction of human embryos. - AP