House Renews Bill Promoting Stem Cell Research Using Umbilical Cord Blood
by Steven Ertelt
September 30, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The House of Representatives, today, passed the reauthorization of the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, a bill written by pro-life Congressman Chris Smith in 2005. The vote makes it so the provisions of the bill, promoting stem cell research with umbilical cord blood, are in place through 2015.
The landmark bill, HR 2520, was signed into law by President Bush in December 2005 and today’s reauthorization was approved by voice vote.
On the House floor, Smith said "it remains one of the best kept secrets in America that umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells in general are curing people of a myriad of terrible conditions and diseases."
Umbilical cords are a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells, yet hospitals throw millions of them away each year because prior to the law the infrastructure required to properly collect and store them was not available. The 2005 law increased the number of cord blood units and stem cells available for treating patients and expanded research.
That law created a new nationwide umbilical cord blood stem cell program designed to collect, derive, type and freeze cord blood units for transplantation into patients to mitigate and even cure serious disease and pursuant to the law, also provided stem cells for research, Smith said. The new cord blood program was combined in the 2005 law with an expanded bone marrow initiative.
In Smiths 2005 law, he named the program after Rep. Bill Young, (FL-10), who spearheaded federal support of bone marrow treatments. The reauthorization of Smiths bill passed the Senate earlier this week.
The measure authorizes $23 million in federal funds from 2011-2014 and $20 million for fiscal year 2015 for the National Cord Blood Inventory. It also pays $30 million from 2011-2014 and $33 million for fiscal year 2015 for the Bone Marrow Transplant program.
It enhances the studies, demonstration programs, and outreach projects related to cord blood donation and collection to include exploring innovative technologies, novel approaches, and expanding the number of collection sites.
It extends the term of initial and contract extensions from three to five years, making it easier for banks to engage in long-term relationship building with birthing hospitals.
The bill also requires cord blood banks to establish a plan for increasing cord blood unit collections and/or expand the number of collection sites with which they work and provide a plan for becoming self-sufficient. And it requires a GAO report to review studies, demonstration programs, and outreach efforts for the purpose of increasing cord blood unit donation and collection for the NCBI to ensure a high-quality and genetically diverse inventory of cord blood units.
And the bill removes the 150,000 cap on cord blood units to be made available for transplant.
"Each year, over 4 million babies are born in America, Smith said. "In the past virtually every placenta and umbilical cord was tossed as medical waste. Today, doctors have turned this medical waste into medical miracles."
"Not only has God in His wisdom and goodness created a placenta and the umbilical cord to nurture and protect the precious life of an unborn child, but now we know that another gift awaits us immediately after birth. Something very special is left behind, cord blood that is teeming with life-saving stem cells," he told his colleagues.
He continued, "Indeed, it remains one of the best kept secrets in America that umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells in general are curing people of a myriad of terrible conditions and diseases-over 70 diseases in adults as well as in children.
Cord blood transplants are on the cutting edge of science for the treatment of leukemia and other cancers and are not just for treatment of blood-related diseases. Increasingly, they also have the capability, as research shows, to do other miraculous things, like treating Cerebral Palsy, Lupus and genetic diseases such as Krabbe Disease, Hurler Disease and Tay Sach Disease.
In the years since the Smith bill authorized the cord blood program, 12 cord blood banks have received contracts with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to collect, store, and provide cord blood units to doctors, patients and researchers. There has been progress toward achieving the goal of collecting and maintaining a collection of 150,000 ethnically diverse units, but Smith said more time and funding is necessary to reach that goal.
In addition to treating blood cancers, clinical trials are underway for the treatment of many other cancers, such as breast and kidney and treating solid tumors, Smith said.
He concluded: Human clinical trials show promise in treating Type I diabetes, cerebral palsy, metabolic storage diseases, brain injury and respiratory distress in newborns, spinal cord injury, and cartilage injuries. Cord blood stem cell transplants can cure sickle cell anemia, one of the most horrific diseases suffered by and affecting 1 out of every 500 African-Americans in America. The legislation that is before us thankfully has already cleared the Senate and will soon be down for the Presidents desk for signature.
Related web sites:
Rep. Chris Smith – https://chrissmith.house.gov
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