WASHINGTON -- To achieve a more cohesive national system for storing and distributing lifesaving stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should establish a new National Cord Blood Policy Board to set rules for the donation, collection, and use of this resource, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In addition, the department's Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) should call for proposals to identify an organization that can serve as a new Cord Blood Coordinating Center to manage daily operations of cord blood banking and allocation nationwide, says the congressionally requested report.
Blood from umbilical cords -- a byproduct of normal childbirth -- is a good source of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs), the type of stem cells also found in bone marrow that give rise to various kinds of blood cells. Transplants of these stem cells have saved the lives of roughly 20,000 Americans with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, and several other illnesses in recent years, the report notes. But thousands of patients who might benefit from a transplant die every year waiting for a match. Although 22 public banks have been established in the United States to collect, store, and distribute donated cord blood containing these cells, these banks operate without any centralized coordination, noted the committee that wrote the report.
"The lack of centralized organization, universal quality standards, and uniform matching mechanisms makes it more difficult than it has to be for physicians to provide patients with suitable cells in a timely way," said Kristine Gebbie, associate professor of nursing and director of the Center for Health Policy and Doctoral Studies Columbia University, New York City, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. "Moreover, there simply aren't enough units of cord blood available now to meet the needs of the roughPage: 1 2 3 4 Related biology news :1
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