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Bill to create National Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank introduced by Senators Hatch, Brownback, Dodd, Feinstein, and Specter.

Washington, D.C. October 21 - Legislation to create a national inventory of 150,000 cord blood stem cell units - sufficient to find a match for 80 - 90% of individuals of diverse genetic backgrounds -- was introduced at a press conference today by U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA). Pablo Rubinstein, M.D., of New York Blood Center, who pioneered this treatment, joined the Senators in announcing the Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2003.

Legislation to establish a National Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank Network will provide funds to build an inventory of high quality cord blood units, available to anyone in need of it. Cord blood stem cells, obtained from delivered placenta and donated by the mother, have been proven to successfully treat lethal malignant and genetic diseases. The bill would authorize $15 million in federal funds during Fiscal Year 2004 and $30 million in FY '05 to subsidize the collection, processing, testing, freezing and storing of cord blood units that would then be made available for transplantation treatments.

The legislation reflects a decade of research, beginning with a 1992 grant to Dr. Rubinstein from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Research from the New York Blood Center has shown that cord blood is as effective as bone marrow from an unrelated donor, even when the cord blood is not a perfect match. For example, severe forms of sickle cell anemia can be successfully treated with a transplant of cord blood stem cells. Because this disease disproportionately affects people of African descent, who currently have lower probability of finding matched bone marrow donors, these patients will especially benefit from the larger inventory of cord blood units.

In its 10 years of operation, 22,000 mothers have donated their baby's cord blood to the National Cord Blood Program at the New York Blood Center, making possible some 1,400 transplants at 150 clinical centers in the U.S. and worldwide.

Passage of the Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2003 will increase cord blood donations from the full spectrum of ethnic groups in the United States, giving patients a much better chance of getting a transplant with cord blood than if perfect HLA compatibility were required.

The New York Blood Center is one of the nation's largest independent blood collection and distribution organizations, responsible for nearly 10 percent of the national blood supply. The Center's Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute is a world leader in hematology and transfusion medicine, conducting both basic and applied research in these important fields.

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