Cord Blood Banking in the United States: A Public Need for Policy Commitments
Matsumoto, Monica M.
Matthews, Kirstin R.W.
Stem cells obtained from umbilical cord blood (CB) have been used to treat over 80 different diseases and have become a standard treatment for many types of leukemias, lymphomas, and inherited immune system disorders. CB transplants have been carried out in humans for over 25 years, and hundreds of clinical trials are currently under way investigating CB’s therapeutic potential for a wide range of disorders, including autism, diabetes, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injury. Extensive storage facilities have also been established in the United States and around the world to collect, test, and freeze CB for later use in medical procedures. However, a divide between two different banking models—public versus private—has emerged, presenting policy challenges. US guidelines on CB banking remain variable, and no mandatory international guidelines exist. To help organize and coordinate efforts across the country, US policymakers should implement regulations with high quality standards for both private and public banks, a commitment to ethical practices, and an investment in educational campaigns and training programs for all steps of the CB banking process.