U.S. Congress Approves Stem Cell Act Reauthorization 

U.S. Congress Approves Stem Cell Act ReauthorizationLaw allocates $23 million per year for cord blood inventory

Legislation reauthorizing the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act has been overwhelmingly passed by both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law by the President. The law authorizes $23 million per year for the next five years for cord blood inventory growth and diversity.

The Cord Blood Association, together with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), worked tirelessly with members of Congress this year and testified in support of the legislation that totals $115 million for five years for the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) and $150 million in that same period for blood and marrow transplant programs through the C.W. Bill Young Transplantation Program. 

“Reauthorization of this significant, life-saving bill will advance the important work of the bone marrow and cord blood programs to promote new discoveries within the fields of cellular therapy and regenerative medicine,” said Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah), lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “Enacting this bill will also reaffirm the commitment that Congress made three decades ago to help patients with blood cancers and other life-threatening diseases by increasing access to life-saving transplants.” 

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), lead sponsor of the House version of the bill, said, “It remains one of the best kept secrets in America that umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells in general are curing people of a myriad of terrible conditions and diseases in adults as well as children. Cord blood, what was once seen as medical waste, is now making miracles.” 

Other primary sponsors of the bipartisan Senate bill were Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.)  Principal co-sponsors of the bipartisan House bill were Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), David Jolly (R-Fla.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.). 

Last month Sen. Hatch thanked CBA and its president, Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, for “helping us develop meaningful legislation that will help cord blood banks do their jobs. I also owe gratitude for the input and guidance on this reauthorization bill that my staff and I received from Mike Boo and Dr. Jeffrey Chell with the National Marrow Donor Program, NMDP.”  

Over the past 30 years, the NMDP’s Be The Match registry has grown to include 193,000 donated cord blood units and 11 million adult volunteer bone marrow donors. Through international relationships with other registries, physicians and patients worldwide have access to 24.5 million potential donors and 622,000 cord blood units.