News and Events
Cord Blood News 9/12/2007
Stem cell use is blood bank's gain
Date: 09. 2007
Source: by DUNSTAN PRIAL, September 12, 07; Published - NorthJersey.com
Of the thousands of stem cell transplants performed annually worldwide on cancer patients, just 1 to 2 percent use samples taken from umbilical cord blood and placentas donated by the mothers of newborns.
But that figure is expected to rise dramatically in the next decade -- to as high as 50 percent, if stem cell researchers and advocates are correct in their projections.
And if they are, the Community Blood Services of Paramus stands to benefit from the improved efficiency and productivity achieved by its recent merger with the cord blood operations of the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden.
"There's going to be a lot of research in this going forward," said Dennis M. Todd, president and chief executive officer of Community Blood Services.
Todd said the percentage should surge because stem cell samples stored in banks such as Community Blood Services are available immediately, whereas those collected from adult donors often can take weeks to obtain.
Also, the methods used for collecting and organizing stored samples often make them easier to match with patients who need transplants, which lowers the chances that the cells will be rejected by the patient's body.
Finally, research has indicated that stem cells derived from cord blood and placenta samples might one day be used to help patients suffering from diabetes and nerve disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
All of these factors point toward a bright future for stem cell research, collection and storage.
Community Blood Services has two entities. The Elie Katz Umbilical Cord Blood Program is the publicly funded arm, selected by Senate President Richard Codey while he was governor, to run the statewide stem cell program.
There is also a private blood bank that stores samples for companies worldwide that market the benefits of stem cell collection to parents. The profits derived from the private operations are plowed back into the entity's public functions, Todd explained.
In May, the non-profit entities Community Blood Services and Coriell Institute agreed to merge their cord blood operations. The combined entity, called the New Jersey Cord Blood Bank, is the largest public cord blood bank in the state.
Todd said the merger between the two public-oriented units made sense because the Coriell Institute excels at research and Community Blood Services excels at collecting and storing samples that are eventually used in transplants.
Savings attributed to the merger will go toward expensive new technology, according to Todd, specifically state-of-the-art machines that can process more blood samples more productively and more efficiently, according to Todd.
"The machines allow for a more efficient process and a higher-quality product," he said.
The seeds for the merger were planted in 2005, when Codey, then the acting governor, signed an executive order that created the nation's first publicly funded cord blood and placenta bank to promote stem cell research.
In addition to creating a centralized statewide program for research and for collecting and storing stem cells, Codey's order also called for an educational push to encourage mothers to donate umbilical cords and placentas after the birth of their children.
Under the terms of the merger, Coriell's research unit was folded into the Elie Katz program.
Todd said the match works because "our core competencies are different."
Furthermore, "it's made it easier to coordinate the statewide program. It's easier than two separate entities working together but not always on the same page," he added