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NMDP, ABC teaming up to educate lawmakers about stem cells, cord blood.

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and America's Blood Centers (ABC) announced in early March they are teaming up to educate lawmakers about the importance of stem cells and cord blood as lifesaving treatment options and the need to fully fund the nation's cord blood network.

The two organizations have also agreed to collaborate on emerging regulatory and standards/accreditation issues on developing new programs to help meet the growing need for adult stem cells and cord blood units from minority donors.

The new partnership builds on current collaborations between the two organizations: 39 ABC member centers currently recruit approximately 30% of the adult donors listed on the NMDP Registry and more than half of ABC centers perform peripheral blood stem cell collections, many for transplant from unrelated donors coordinated by NMDP. Eight ABC centers also collect and store cord blood units, many of which are listed on the NMDP registry.

Jeffrey Chell, MD, CEO of NMDP, thanked ABC's willingness to support public policies that promote the expansion of cord blood banks and collection of cord blood units. "We would like to make cord blood collection and facilities and their procedures as consistent as possible from state to state, in full compliance with federal requirements and industry standards," he said in a press release. "That will take a concerted effort, model legislation and consistent federal funding. We are confident ABC can help us in these key areas, as well as build grass-roots support for this very worthy cause."

"We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with NMDP to expand the network of public cord blood banks with the goal of increasing the quantity and racial diversity of donated cord blood to help more patients with life-threatening diseases," said ABC CEO Jim McPherson. "As federally licensed facilities that practice current good manufacturing practices, blood centers are a great fit to help manage the rapidly increasing needs of cellular therapies. The success of the cord blood network is critical to conquering many fatal cancers and genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia. The numbers of patients using blood and getting stem cell and cord blood transplants are increasing, and the US is becoming a minority majority country. ABC and NMDP share the goal of assuring that the right cord blood and cells are there when needed."

In 2006, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded contracts to NMDP to operate the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program. Under the agreement, NMDP serves as the nation's Cord Blood Coordinating Center, to help expand the availability of cord blood units collected and diversity of cord blood units on the National Cord Blood Inventory. The goal is to increase the NCBI by 150,000 cord blood units. Three ABC members - New York Blood Center, South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, and Puget Sound Blood Center - have received grants from HRSA to increase their cord inventories. Several other ABC members have been applicants or hope to be recipients of future grants.

NMDP and ABC said they will also join to educate patients, physicians, and families about federal and state policies related to cord blood collection, maintenance, and availability through the NCBI, as well as issues related to the continuation of the C.W. Young Cell Transplantation Program. In addition, the two organizations will work together to expand the nationwide network of centers that can college peripheral blood stem cells from donors matched to recipients in need of a transplant, and look at the feasibility of piloting a program to recruit and expand the donation of umbilical cords from minority donors within ABC's network of blood banks. Both NMDP and ABC have minority donor initiatives and will be sharing best practices that can be applied at the local level to increase blood donations and minority donors for stem cells and cords.
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Publication:Transplant News
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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