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Launch of public cord blood bank and stem cell research centre

15 September 2008
Appeared in BioNews 475

The UK's Antony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust this week launched a new initiative - the Antony Nolan Cord Blood Bank and a combined stem cell research centre at Nottingham Trent University. Mothers who deliver babies at the Kings College Hospital, London, are being recruited to donate the stem cells from their umbilical cord blood (UCB) to the public bank.

Recruitment typically takes place during anti-natal sessions at the hospital and has been met with a favourable response amongst mothers-to-be. It is anticipated that by 2012, up to 50,000 cord blood units will be stored for transplantation and research purposes. The charity's Chief Executive, Dr Steve McEwan, said, 'the beauty of this new programme will not only be to save the lives of hundreds more patients but also provide researchers the opportunity to develop innovative new treatments using cord blood'.

Although Kings College Hospital was chosen for the wide demographic mix of its population and is the first to contribute to the scheme, it is hoped that the initiative will be expanded over the next few years to include 10 collection centres. The new scheme will run in addition to hospitals already collecting on behalf of the NHS Cord Blood Bank. The charity, however, still needs to raise 27 million pounds through fundraising to support the scheme.

UCB stem cells have been shown to be a powerful alternative to bone marrow in the treatment of blood disorders such as thalassaemia, immunodeficiency, inherited metabolic diseases, aplastic anaemia and acute leukaemia and provides hope to those who are unable to find a suitable bone marrow match from the registries. The cells, which are routinely discarded as a waste product, are collected from the umbilical cord at the moment of birth in a relatively pain and risk-free procedure compared to the procurement of bone marrow, which is an aggressive and invasive process.

Furthermore, research has shown that UCB stem cells may in the long term play a significant role in cell therapy and regenerative medicine and additional studies using animals indicate that they possess the potential to improve cardiac function, treat diseases of the central nervous system, and brain injury, including stroke. The use of cord blood and the new centre have been hailed by consultant haematologist, Professor Ghulam Mufti, as 'an exciting and rapidly moving' part of medicine.

The new centre was opened by Health Secretary, Alan Johnson who said, 'cord blood offers further potential to change and save lives. Collected, processed and stored at birth, it becomes part of a global life saving resource'. He added, 'the Anthony Nolan Trust is already acclaimed worldwide, and the impact of the events here today will be felt globally. The complex will provide a lifeline for thousands complementing the 12 years experience of the NHS Cord Blood Bank and reinforce the UK's role as a research centre of excellence'. Camilla Judge, age 33, from East Dulwich became the first mother to donate her baby's cord blood to the bank.

Cord blood bank 'will save lives'
BBC News Online |  11 September 2008
Mother is first in Britain to donate stem cells taken from her baby
The Evening Standard |  11 September 2008
Stem cell research institute and cord blood bank opens
The Daily Telegraph |  11 September 2008
Umbilical cord bank could save thousands of lives
The Daily Telegraph |  11 September 2008
1 August 2011 - by Alison Cranage 
The UK Government has recently announced a £4 million investment in stem cell services. The funding will enable NHS Blood and Transplant and charity Anthony Nolan to work together to increase UK cord blood collection and expand and improve adult stem cell donor registers...
21 March 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) has announced it has forged an affiliation with the recently established University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry for the exchange of stem cell technology and expertise. The banks will collaborate on various aspects of stem cell banking, including best practice standards and the delivery of stem cell lines for clinical use...
28 September 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Banking a newborn's umbilical cord blood through a private company so that stem cells may be derived and stored for that child's or sibling's future medical uses is not financially worthwhile, according to a study performed at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). It found that the chances of privately stored umbilical cord blood being therapeutic in the next twenty years are so remote that it does not justify the expense. The researchers calculated that it costs ap...
20 April 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
Canadian scientists have found a new way to prompt haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from the bone marrow of mice to multiply, in order to provide a large quantity of HSCs from a small sample of bone marrow. They hope that this technique, if it also works in...
6 April 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Some UK National Health Service (NHS) hospitals are banning the collection of umbilical cord blood at birth unless it goes into a public blood bank rather than being stored for future use by the individual. King's College hospital in London and Watford General hospital in Hertfordshire have...
7 July 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine 
This week saw the introduction of licensing agreements for UK premises that wish to undertake the collection of umbilical cord blood (UCB) stem cells on behalf of pregnant women. Cord blood has been collected and used in the treatment of certain blood diseases such as leukaemia, and...
6 May 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine 
In the 21st Century, the collection and use of stem cells from umbilical cord blood (UCB) is anything but a new phenomenon. Since the first successful UCB transplant in 1988, the use of UCB for transplantation purposes has been used in over 6,000 treatments worldwide and has proved to be...
6 May 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine 
The UK's Human Tissue Authority (HTA) has announced that the collection of umbilical cord blood stem cells is to be regulated for the first time in the UK. Cord blood contains a rich source of stem cells that could be used to fight disease and may in...
18 February 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine 
After two months of treatment for a rare form of cancer known as Neuroblastoma, two-year old Caden Ledbetter came home from hospital in Dallas, Texas, this week, cancer-free. Neuroblastoma is a fast-growing cancer, which affects the nervous system. Sporting a surgical mask and clutching a teddy bear...
14 January 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine 
The potentially life-saving properties of cord blood stem cells, taken from the umbilical cords of newborn babies, has been highlighted by a UK politician this week. Conservative MP David Burrowes presented a 10-minute rule bill to Parliament on 8 January 2008, which requires doctors to inform...
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