View Full Version : Perdue creates statewide stem-cell collection network

Saturday, April 15th, 2006, 02:20 PM
Perdue creates statewide stem-cell collection network

Gov. Sonny Perdue met with Coastal Empire constituents during a town hall meeting Wednesday at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum. Carl Elmore Savannah Morning News

Vicky Eckenrode
(404) 681-1701
ATLANTA - With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Sonny Perdue accomplished Friday what the General Assembly couldn't in three months, namely the creation of a statewide system for the collection of stem cells for research and medical treatment.

Perdue signed an executive order establishing a 15-member commission that will set up a stem-cell bank for research into degenerative diseases. But he sidestepped the controversy that had slowed the Legislature's attempt, because he limited collection to exclude embryos.

Instead of embryos, the stem cells in the Perdue bank will come from umbilical-cord blood, amniotic fluid and other tissue naturally expelled as part of childbirth, so-called post-natal tissue.

The Republican governor assembled the press at an Atlanta hospital's cancer center to sign the order.
"Collecting nonembryonic stem cells from umbilical-cord blood is safe, painless and risk-free," Perdue said. "Cord blood treatments are an ethically responsible way to relieve suffering and save lives."
Bills attempting to expand stem-cell research faltered during this year's legislative session, which ended recently, over debate of the ethics of including embryos.

State Sen. David Adelman, D-Atlanta, kicked off the discussion by introducing a bill to create a statewide donor bank for umbilical-cord blood and placental tissues, sources of adult stem cells. His bill also included provisions to collect the more controversial embryonic stem cells that can be used to form many other types of human cells.

Embryonic cells are harvested from embryos left over from fertility treatments. Conservatives objected, fearing it would open a door to human cloning.

Adelman's bill stalled without getting a committee hearing as Republicans drafted their own legislation to address just the donation of newborn umbilical-cord blood. As introduced, the GOP bill would have made it a crime to collect embryonic cells.

State Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, sponsored that measure. It went through several changes, including the ultimate removal of the language criminalizing stem-cell research associated with cloning after an outcry from the medical research community.
By the final hours of the session, Shafer's bill failed to clear both chambers in time.
Adelman slammed Perdue's announcement Friday, describing it as election-year posturing.
"During the 2006 session, he had a chance to lead in biomedical research, but he refused to do so," Adelman said in a statement. "Families suffering from degenerative diseases do not need photo ops; they need leadership."
Adelman pointed to moves other states have made in stem-cell research from all sources.

For instance, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, signed an executive order creating a research institute that would provide grants for studies using the full range of stem cells, including embryonic stem cells, except for those coming from fetuses from induced abortions or the creation of embryos solely for research purposes.

Dr. David Hess is the chairman of the Department of Neurology at Medical College of Georgia. MCG established a cord blood bank in 2003 using $500,000 from the Georgia Research Alliance.
"I think the real push for this is all of the people, particularly children, who could benefit from a bone marrow transplant but who don't have a match," Hess said. "Certainly, these umbilical-cord stem cells can cure some patients with sickle cell anemia. And as they said, there are 60 other diseases they've been used to treat."

The real push behind this is many times these donations are not obtained, the cord is thrown out and wasted, which is really the rule rather than the exception. The exception is actually having it collected.
"There are some federal funds that are available to be released to the states that have programs in place, and they can match it," Hess said. "Funding is still part of the question here."
"That's the limiting factor," said Dr. Cesario V. Borlongan, the director of MCG's bank until December 2005, who has worked with cord blood in animal models of stroke and other diseases.
It could cost up to $5,000 for each sample that could be used clinically in a patient, Borlongan said. But other applications, such as in treating stroke in animals, have been encouraging, said Dr. Paul Sanberg, director of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida in Tampa, which has its own cord blood bank. In work with Borlongan and others, they have shown that the cord blood cells given within 72 hours of a stroke in animals can limit the damage.
"What our data now shows, and others as well, is that the cord blood helping in early injury, for example, is providing growth factors, immune support but also angiogenic factors to help regrow blood vessels," Sanberg said. "(The data) is very encouraging. Also the fact that repair can occur without the idea that you have to replace the actual cells is very important."

Even more intriguing is work in mice whose babies would lack a certain enzyme that leads to a crippling disease after birth. Human cord blood cells given to the mothers actually grafted into those fetuses and then showed normal levels of the enzyme, Sanberg said.

"That's the idea is that for this kind of disease you could then administer early and help the cells engraft and replace the enzyme itself, which would be very important," Sanberg said.

And all of that research could add even greater interest in cord blood cells and increase the need soon.
"All of the stuff that we're doing is for the future," Sanberg said. "But the field is moving so fast, that this could be five years away."

Source: Savannah Morning News

Saturday, April 15th, 2006, 02:54 PM
The real push behind this is many times these donations are not obtained, the cord is thrown out and wasted, which is really the rule rather than the exception. The exception is actually having it collected.

I think it should be up to the parents of the child if they want to donate it. There should not be a mandatory collection of them. We do not do this with organs. Organs must be donated. Can you imagine if we started telling people that when they are terminally ill, and close to death, that a mandatory collection of useable organs will be enforced in order that another person might live? I'm sure they get plenty of stem cells for their research and scientists are able to grow more stem cells from the ones they do get.

Saturday, April 15th, 2006, 06:32 PM
As a nurse I have worked in a stem-cell unit. Great possibilities. Of course only with permission of both donors and recipients.

Of great importance as well, at least to me: WHEREAS: The umbilical cord, placenta, and amniotic fluid are rich in stem cells which may be used for scientific research and medical treatment without destroying embryos;


To promote awareness and encourage donation of postnatal tissue and fluid to public or private umbilical cord blood banks.
To develop a program to educate pregnant patients with respect to the banking of postnatal tissue and fluid to include: a) an explanation of the difference between public and private banking programs; b) the medical process involved in the collection and storage of postnatal tissue and fluid; c) the current and potential future medical uses of stored postnatal tissue and fluid; d) the benefits and risks involved in the banking of postnatal tissue and fluid; and e) the availability and cost of storing postnatal tissue and fluid in public and private umbilical cord blood banks.
To develop a plan to ensure that any person giving birth to a child in Georgia may have the opportunity to contribute postnatal tissue and fluid to a public or private umbilical cord blood bank.

Saturday, April 15th, 2006, 09:54 PM
Thanks for that link Georgia. It provides so much more information on their plans than the news article did. :)

I think it is a shame at how much private banking of cord blood costs. For example, this site (http://www.familycordbloodservices.com/fees.cfm)it ranges from $1595-$3180, and if after 10 years you wish to publicly donate it, they charge an additional $250 fee. Some places charge even more than this. In Texas we have a lot of publicity on banking. I know that it was everywhere and from everyone when I was pregnant this last time.

Here are some more FAQs on cord blood and reasons why and why not an individual may want to bank: http://www.info-pedia.com/cordblood.html
(For people who might be interested.)