10,000 Newborns Give Hope Through Cord Blood Donations
Cord blood units also studied for use in diabetes research
SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Cord Blood Bank today announced it has reached the milestone of banking more than 10,000 units of life-saving umbilical cord blood for the statewide repository.
The Texas Cord Blood Bank has been able to provide more than 1,000 cord blood units for transplant and research. One example is the use of cord blood by renowned pediatric hematologist-oncologist Dr. Joel Weinthal director of the Stem Cell Transplant and medical director of the Apheresis Program at Medical City Hospital in Dallas.
“Having access to cord blood cell transplants has been a lifesaver for pediatric oncology patients,” said Dr. Weinthal, who has used cord stem cell transplants to treat young patients suffering from cancers including leukemia and neuroblastoma, one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed among infants. “As a public cord blood bank, the Texas Cord Blood Bank offers hope to patients across the state, and is especially needed for minority patients to find a suitable match.”
“As parents learn of the life-saving potential that umbilical cord blood carries, we’re seeing more and more willing to provide their baby’s cord blood which would otherwise be discarded,” said Mary Beth Fisk, President and Chief Operating Officer. “We are thankful to our partner hospitals for offering this service to their communities. Each time a family makes that selfless decision to donate their child’s cord blood, we are one-step closer to finding treatment for someone in need.”
Realizing Breakthroughs in Diabetes and Other Research
Working with GenCure, the regenerative medicine arm of South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, the Texas Cord Blood Bank has also provided hundreds of units for important research efforts around the world. An example is the research GenCure is participating in with Dr. Yong Zhao, who is studying the use of cord blood cells in diabetes therapy, which is expected to represent a significant future use of cord blood cells.
“Dr. Zhao’s research addresses the inability to control autoimmunity, which is the primary barrier to developing a cure for Type 1 Diabetes,” said Fisk. “His evidence that human cord blood-derived stem cells can control autoimmune responses offers promise for a new approach to overcoming the autoimmunity underlying diabetes. It’s this kind of research that we are so excited about being a part of – research that can make a huge difference in health in the future.”
The Texas Cord Blood Bank, is a non-profit program established by the Texas legislature in 2001 to collect umbilical cord blood, which can benefit patients, usually children, suffering from a number of potentially fatal diseases. It began banking cord blood units in 2005.
Umbilical cord blood, which is normally discarded after the birth of a baby, is rich in blood-making cells that can be used as an alternative to bone marrow transplants to treat cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, disorders of the blood-making system such as sickle-cell anemia, and severe immune-system disorders.
There is no cost to parents who donate umbilical cord blood to the Texas Cord Blood Bank, which is working to build a statewide collection of cord blood that captures the vast ethnic diversity of Texans, as ethnicity plays a key role in finding a suitable genetic match for patients.