Cord Blood (CB) is a unique and readily available source of hematopoietic stem cells for
transplantation. CB also contains other types of stem cells, including endothelial stem cells and mesenchymal
stem cells, that may prove useful in non-traditional clinical uses. Genetic and molecular analyses
have demonstrated that CB stem cells lie somewhere between mature stem cells like those found in
Bone Marrow (BM), and fetal stem cells. After 25 years of clinical experience, CB is now used in the
same fashion as BM for all typical malignant and genetic diseases treated by bone marrow transplant.
Due to the establishment of CB banks in the US and abroad, more than 35,000 CB transplants have
been performed over the past 25 years. An average of 700-800 CB transplants are performed annually.
In addition, CB is now used more frequently for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering applications.
At first glance, it seems that everything could not be better with the public cord blood banks and
the use of their samples in the clinic. However, a recent report by the Rand Corp. reviewed the US national
cord blood stem cell banking program and detailed many ongoing problems. However, some
details were omitted from the report that would shed some light on the causes of many of the problems.
This paper will summarize the status of the public cord blood stem cell banking program in the US,
detail the problems associated with the program that could jeopardize its existence and suggest possible
solutions to resolve these issues.
Keywords: Cord blood, stem cells, regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, cord blood banks, transplantation.
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