New effort to collect cord blood stem cells

A new storage bank will soon open which will store donations of umbilical cord blood, a source of stem cells that does not involve the destruction of embryos.

Thousands of cord blood donations will be stored at the new centre, Kingscord, which will be run by a leukaemia charity, the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells, which can be used both for research and treatment.

Because it does not require the destruction of human embryos, the use of cord blood has been promoted by pro-life campaigners.

They point out its success as a source of stem cells for the treatment of conditions such as leukaemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anaemia.

In total, over 70 medical treatments have been developed from umbilical cord stem cells and other ethical sources, while embryonic stem cells have not yet successfully been used to treat any patients.

The Government has promoted embryonic stem cell research as part of its Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which will go through its remaining Commons stages in the autumn.

Earlier this year, David Burrowes MP introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill calling for the collection of umbilical cord blood to become routine practice.

During the debate, he said: “The question that this [Ten Minute Rule] Bill raises is why are we routinely disregarding the proven life saving value of umbilical cord blood but legislating and investing predominantly in the unproven and ethically challenging route of embryonic research.

“Given that in the foreseeable future we will depend on non embryonic stem cell therapies, why are we putting literally most of our eggs in one basket?”