Sir Richard Branson has announced today that he is launching a public-private umbilical cord banking initiative, which will greatly increase the availability of the extremely valuable stem cells which can be obtained after the birth of a child.
Contrary to the comments that continue to appear in the media, CORE, like the majority of pro-life groups is absolutely in favour of this source of human stem cells and we congratulate Sir Richard and his charity, and hope that it will be very successful.
Umbilical cord blood has already been used in hundreds of successful stem cell therapies worldwide (particularly in curing children with blood cancers), and it is extraordinary that we throw away such a rich and plentiful source of this amazing regenerative tissue.
Current research into umbilical cord stem cells is showing enormous promise and in the coming decade it is expected that even broader application of these cells in regenerative medicine will be possible.
Prof Colin McGuckin, who appeared in the media today supporting the Branson initiative, leads a dynamic research team in Newcastle University, where they are striding ahead in this exciting work.
It is quite extraordinary how reluctant the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has been in endorsing cord blood stem cells. Quite surprising considering the uncritical enthusiasm of the same Royal College for the cloning of animal-human hybrid embryos to further stem cell research, a proposal which has been greeted sceptically or negatively by many eminent scientists and countries worldwide. Any possible benefits from cloned hybrids remain in the realm of doubt, far from the tangible reality of cord blood stem cells.
The RCOG can nitpick as much as it likes. We think
National Cord Blood Banks are an excellent idea, as do the families whose children have had their health restored as a result of cord blood donation.