Foundation has awarded a $5,000,000 grant to New York Blood Center's
National Cord Blood Program (NCBP). Combined with a $2,000,000 grant
that was awarded in August 2000, the Starr Foundation has provided
$7,000,000 to support this important life-saving initiative. In
1993, the New York Blood Center established the world's first and
largest public cord blood bank. The original grant allowed the NCBP
to begin fulfilling its goal of expanding its inventory to 75,000
grant will be used to increase the size and quality of the search
inventory. This will provide well matched grafts with sufficient
cell doses to more than 80% of patients in the U.S. who must have
a bone marrow transplant. These developments bring hope for patients
with lethal diseases who need stem cells transplants for blood and
immune system diseases.
The NCBP now
has an inventory of approximately 18,000 units and the new grant
will enable a quantum enhancement of the expansion: the NCBP is
thrilled to announce the opening of two new collection sites in
2003, increasing these sites to a total of six. The NCBP currently
operates collection facilities at Brooklyn Hospital, North Shore
University Hospital, New York Presbyterian Hospital and Inova Hospital
in Fairfax, VA. The two new collection sites, to be opened with
support from the Starr Foundation grant, are at the Obstetrics of
Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY and University Hospitals in
generosity of the Starr Foundation the NCBP will be able to expand
its cord blood inventory and will be better able to meet the needs
of patients who require cord blood transplants in order to survive,"
said Dr. Pablo Rubinstein, who, with Dr. Cladd Stevens, heads the
National Cord Blood Program. Recent analyses, performed in cooperation
with the International Bone Marrow Registry (IBMTR), indicate that
the overall survival of young patients after unrelated cord blood
transplants is no different to that of patients receiving unrelated
bone marrow. In fact, it may be superior with larger and well-matched
cord blood grafts. "Cord blood transplants are the wave of the future",
said Florence A. Davis, President of The Starr Foundation. "We are
pleased to support this important program at the New York Blood
The NCBP has
since collaborated with transplant physicians at 90 clinical centers
in the US and 74 transplant centers in 26 other countries. More
than 1,350 patients throughout the world have been transplanted
with NCBP-provided grafts, almost half of the world's known transplants
of unrelated cord blood.
Cord blood has several useful advantages
over traditonal bone marrow transplants as a source of stem cells.
- There are large numbers of potential
- Cord blood can only be collected
after the birth without risk to the donors. No fetal tissues or
cells are involved that might raise ethical questions.
- Bone marrow harvesting, in contrast,
requires donors to undergo a surgical procedure under general
anesthesia, and is not without risk.
- Stored cord blood is immediately
available - cord blood transplants can be accomplished within
a week of the request. Bone marrow from unrelated donors usually
requires months to select, find and confirm the eligibility of
- Many bone marrow donors cease
being able or willing to donate with a relatively high probability,
and the registry must replace the members lost to attrition.
- Cord blood is more consistently
free of the latent forms of some common viral infections than
is the bone marrow from adult donors (some of these latent infections
are due to viruses that can be lethal to bone marrow recipients).
- Cord blood does not have to be
as closely matched to a recipient's tissue as bone marrow. An
unrelated bone marrow transplant requires that donor and recipient
be almost perfectly matched for each of the six genetic traits
(HLA antigens) in their tissue types.
As one of the largest independent
blood collection and distribution organizations in the country,
New York Blood Center provides more than one million units of blood
and blood products annually and serves some 200 hospitals and 20
million people in the greater metropolitan area. Its Lindsley F.
Kimball Research Institute is one of the world's leading centers
for research in blood and blood-related diseases such as AIDS and
hepatitis. The concentration of resources, experts and experience
in organizing large-scale public health efforts provides the synergy
that makes new ideas emerge and drive powerful initiatives such
as the National Cord Blood Program. The New York Blood Center continues
its 40-year-old commitment to biomedical research, medical excellence
and progressive service to the community in the broad area of Transfusion
The Starr Foundation was established
in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr, an insurance entrepreneur who
founded the American International family of insurance and financial
services companies, now known as American International Group, Inc.
(NYSE:AIG). Mr. Starr, a pioneer of globalization, set up his first
insurance venture in Shanghai in 1919. He died in 1968 at the age
of 76, leaving his estate to the Foundation. The Starr Foundation
with assets of $3 billion is one of the largest private foundations
in the United States. It makes grants in a number of areas, including
education, medicine and healthcare, public policy, human needs,
culture and the environment.