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Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act Renewed

The House of Representatives, 10/4/10, passed the reauthorization of the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act (HR 6081).  The vote extends the provisions of the bill, promoting stem cell research with umbilical cord blood through 2015. The reauthorization was approved by voice vote.

 The 2005 law increased the number of cord blood units and stem cells available for treating patients and expanded research.

  • This law created a new national 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;
  • The new cord blood program was combined in the 2005 law with an expanded bone marrow initiative;
  • The legislation has already cleared the Senate and will soon be down for the President’s desk for signature.

The measure authorizes $23 M in federal funds from 2011-2014 and $20 M for fiscal year 2015 for the National Cord Blood Inventory.

  • It also pays $30 M from 2011-2014 and $33 M for fiscal year 2015 for the Bone Marrow Transplant program;
  • It also 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 3 to 5 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;
  • 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;
  • The bill removes the 150,000 cap on cord blood units to be made available for transplant.

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. Cord blood transplants increasingly have the capability to 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.