A House panel responsible for advancing and monitoring the nation’s health care and research laws Thursday examined new bipartisan legislation supporting treatment and therapies derived from adult stem cell lines.
Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), author of the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2015 ( HR 2820), said he was encouraged that the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health moved quickly to include the legislation in their hearing entitled: “Examining Public Health Legislation: H.R. 2820, H.R. 1344, and H.R. 1462.” Smith and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Ca.) introduced the bill only last week with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
“This important bipartisan legislation will save more lives,” said Smith who also authored the first law (The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005—P.L. 109-129) creating the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) program and continuing the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation program. Smith said
“The adult stem cells found in bone marrow and cord blood provide hope not only for curing the diseases and conditions currently known, but they also set the stage for even more cures in the future.”
The witnesses included experts on the programs for bone marrow and cord blood transplantation, and their testimony underscored the measurable success of these lifesaving programs.
Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, professor at Duke University and director of the Carolina Cord Blood Bank, testified about the successes of the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) program in providing unrelated cord blood donations to treat diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia.
Kurtzberg also spoke of the potential for future use of cord blood cellular therapies in treating brain injuries saying: “Over the past six years, we have initiated trials of autologous (the patient’s own) cord blood in babies with birth asphyxia … cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and autism.”
Dr. Jeff Chell, CEO of National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), told the story of Brandy Bly, a child whose family could not find a matched donor for her in the 1980s and she tragically died. It was Brandy’s case that prompted the creation of a national bone marrow registry, which was later expanded by Smith’s 2005 law to include cord blood as well. The new reauthorization will keep the program going for future patients.
“Today we are able to treat patients with cancers and pre-cancers, such as leukemia, Myelodysplasia, and lymphomas; bone marrow failure disorders, such as aplastic anemia and immunodeficiency syndrome; and genetic diseases, such as sickle cell disease,” Chell said in his testimony.
“Cord blood and bone marrow adult stem cells have an applicability and potential that is proven and invaluable—promising life-saving cures for multiple diseases. The program must be extended and I look forward to this bill advancing quickly through the legislative process and being signed into law,” Smith said.
The reauthorization is supported by the National Marrow Donor Program and Cord Blood Association.