September 12, 2008

Umbilical Cord Blood Bank Hopes for 50,000 Donations


THE first bank to store umbilical cord blood for use in both stem cell transplants and research opened yesterday.

Patients UK-wide suffering life-threatening illnesses such as leukaemia will benefit from the GBP1.4m centre at Nottingham Trent University.

A cord blood bank was due to launch in Scotland in April 2007, but it has been delayed and is now due to open by next April.

Traditionally, blood disorders such as leukaemia have been treated with bone marrow transplants, as this is one way of giving a patient stems cells hat in turn create the blood cells they need.

However, there are not enough bone marrow donors to meet demand and medical advances mean stem cells can now be collected from the umbilical cord at birth and stored ready for transplantation.

There is an NHS Cord Blood Bank in England but the new Nottingham centre, set up by charity the Anthony Nolan Trust, should significantly increase supplies.

Initially, mothers delivering at London's King's College Hospital will be able to donate cord blood to the Nolan Trust bank, but the charity intends to open another nine collection centres and one is likely to be located in Scotland.

Dr Jo Mountford, senior lecturer in stem cell technology at Glasgow University, said stem cell banks were absolutely essential.

She said: "I am very pleased to see the extension of this.

There is a major bank in London and it is now spreading into the rest of the country."

The Anthony Nolan Trust plans to store 50,000 donations by 2013 and anticipates that 20,000 will be suitable for donation and 30,000 for research.

Dr Steve McEwan, the charity's chief executive, said:

"This is an exciting new chapter in the development of the Anthony Nolan Trust, and a natural extension of our bone marrow register. The beauty of this new programme will not only be to save the lives of hundreds more patients but also provide researchers the opportunity to develop innovative new treatments " www. anthonynolan.

org. uk

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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