Public Stem Cell Programme Has Potential to Save Lives
News Sep 11, 2008
The Anthony Nolan Trust Cord Blood Bank and combined research institute will store stem cells from the blood of new-born babies’ umbilical cords, to help save lives, and pioneer medical breakthroughs.
The centre at Nottingham Trent University spearheads a multi-million pound project that will call on the generosity of individuals and the support of eminent institutions and aims to bank 50,000 cord bloods to provide life-saving transplant matches for almost every patient.
Initially, mums delivering at London’s King’s College Hospital can donate cord blood; the charity aims to have 10 collection centres in the next few years.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson said "The Anthony Nolan Trust is already acclaimed worldwide, and the impact of the events here today, will be felt globally. 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."
The programme builds on the charity’s highly successful Bone Marrow Register of 400,000 potential donors, by offering a new source of stem cells to match an increasingly diverse population.
Cord blood transplants have already been highly successful in renewing bone marrow and regenerating the immune systems of those with life-threatening illnesses including leukaemia, sickle-cell diseases, and immune deficiencies, but there are not enough bone marrow donors available to meet today’s needs.
The charity first expanded into cord blood five years ago, by sourcing donations from overseas; last year it imported 70 cords for UK transplant patients. Of the 50,000 donations planned for storage by 2013, 20,000 will be suitable for transplantation, 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 using cord blood.”
Bryan Jackson, Chairman of East Midlands Development Agency (emda) which provided £1.4m towards the creation of The Anthony Nolan Trust Cord Blood Bank, said: “This will be an invaluable asset for those scientists who are undertaking ground breaking research into the use of stem cells to cure serious diseases and as a national cord blood bank centre. Our region is establishing an international reputation for its innovative work in the field of healthcare and bioscience and the establishment of this facility further enhances that reputation.”
Professor Ghulam Mufti, Consultant Haematologist, King’s College Hospital, recently marked the hospital’s 1000th stem cell transplant, and said: “This is one of the most exciting and rapidly moving fields in modern medicine, with new techniques being discovered all the time.