A new public cord blood bank opens

15 September 2008

A new public centre, whose aims are to offer stem cells to match a diverse population, was opened on the 11th of September by the Health Secretary Alan Johnson (see press release). The Anthony Nolan Stem Cell Therapy Centre is a combined blood bank and research institute that aims to store stem cells from cord blood for use in transplants as well as carry out pioneering research into new therapies. It is part of the Cord Blood Programme run by the Anthony Nolan Trust. Currently, cord blood stem cells have been used successful in renewing bone marrow and regenerating the immune systems of those with life-threatening illnesses including leukaemia, sickle-cell diseases, and immune deficiencies and it is hoped that research into cord blood transplantation will help many other diseases.

The centre aims to bank 50,000 units of blood by 2013 of which 20,000 will be suitable for transplantation and 30,000 for research. At present donations are being taken from babies born at London’s Kings College hospital and the Trust hopes that it will be able to collect donations from more hospitals in the future. Various commercial companies also operate cord blood banks and there have been concerns that this may divert efforts away from public sector banks such as the NHS Cord Blood Bank (see previous news). The impact of this new public venture on the NHS Cord Blood bank is unclear, however, the Trust says that the complex will “help provide a lifeline for thousands complementing the 12 years' experience of the NHS Cord Blood Bank; and reinforce the UK's role as a research centre of excellence” (see press release).

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