House Supports Adult Stem Cell Research Bill on Cord Blood

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 24, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Supports Adult Stem Cell Research Bill on Cord Blood Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 24, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Along with a vote to approve a bill to fund embryonic stem cell research, House members on Tuesday also voted in favor of legislation to use promote the use of adult stem cells. The bill provides funding to use stem cells from umbilical cord blood, which have proven to be the most effective.

The House passed the bill, HR 2520, on a 434-1 vote and the measure now heads to the Senate.

Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, proposed the legislation that would create a new federally funded stem cell therapeutic and research program for the collection and inventory of umbilical cord blood.

President Bush and pro-life groups strongly supported the bill and urged votes on it as an alternative to the measure funding embryonic stem cell research.

"Cord-blood stem cells, collected from the placenta and umbilical cord after birth without doing harm to mother or child, have been used in the treatment of thousands of patients suffering from more than 60 different diseases," President Bush said in a statement supporting the measure.

Lawmakers pointed to the dozens of cures and treatments obtained from adult stem cells and the failure of embryonic stem cells to cure any patients.

"Umbilical cords are a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells, but currently hospitals throw millions of them away each year because we do not have the infrastructure needed to properly collect and store them," said Smith — who has been championing this legislation for three years.

"The best kept medical secret has been that thousands have been successfully treated with cord blood stem cells for more than 67 diseases including Leukemia and Sickle Cell Anemia," Smith added.

Phil Coelho is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Thermogenesis Corp., which provides cord blood stem cell processing and cryopreservation systems used by major cord blood stem cell banks.

He says that adult stem cells have "been used clinically about 30,000 times."

Cord blood cells, the subject of one of the bills Congress will consider, "have some dramatic advantages," Coelho says.

"[T]hey can become several — and perhaps all — the different tissue types; they involve no donor risks; they have the capacity for many cell divisions; and they cause less graft versus host disease," he explained.

A team of scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center have found that using umbilical cord blood could mean new life for newborn babies with a rare genetic disorder.

Umbilical cord blood transplants can save the lives of newborns with Krabbe’s disease, helping their brains to develop normally.