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President Bush Signs Bill to Advance Ethical Cord Blood Stem Cell Research

Posted by ssbg on December 30, 2005

President George W. Bush smiles as he signs into law H.R. 2520, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005, during ceremonies Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. White House photo by Paul Morse

Excerpted from “Umbilical Cord Databank to Be Established; President Bush Signs Legislation to Set Up National Databank for Umbilical Cord Blood,” Associated Press, Dec. 20, 2005– President Bush on Tuesday signed legislation to establish a national databank of umbilical cord blood and bone marrow that would allow doctors to quickly find a match for patients who need a transplant.The bill Bush signed will provide $79 million in federal funding to increase the number of cord blood units available for matches. The objective is 150,000 units, which would mean 90 percent of patients needing them would have a match. It also reauthorizes the national bone marrow transplant system, combining it and the cord blood in the same database. Full Article

Sharon Quick, MD, FCP, FAAP: Stem cells derived from blood including umbilical cord stem cells have been shown to have pluripotential differentiation in the lab. These cells show preliminary positive results in human case studies. A study by Kogler, et al, showed that human umbilical cord blood stem cells had pluripotential differentiation into different tissue types including bone, cartilage, fat, blood, and neurons. In vivo differentiation of these stem cells along mesodermal and endodermal pathways was demonstrated in animal models. No tumor formation was observed in any of these animals many months after their introduction. (Kogler G, Sensken S, Airey JA, et al. A new human somatic stem cell from placental cord blood with intrinsic pluripotent differentiation potential. J Exp Med. 2004 Jul 19;200(2):123-135.) Another study confirmed that blood stem cells can form cells from all three germ layers. (Zhao Y, Glesne D, Huberman E. A human peripheral blo! od monocyte-derived subset acts as pluripotent stem cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Mar 4;100(5):2426-2431.) 

A team of South Korean researchers injected umbilical cord blood stem cells into the area around a 37-year old woman’s injured spinal cord during a laminectomy procedure. The patient’s lower limbs had been paralyzed after an accident in 1985 which damaged her lower back and hips. After the surgery and stem cell transplant the patient showed improvement in evaluations of her neuronal function and motor ability, including the ability to walk with a walker. No immunosuppressive drugs were used before or after treatment. The laminectomy could also be responsible for the improvement; further studies are needed. (Kang KS, Kim SW, Oh YH, et al.)


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