Jun 24 2013

Americord Applauds Study on Stem Cell Therapy for Congenital Heart Defect

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A Newborn’s Own Cord Blood Stem Cells Could Strengthen Heart Muscle

New York – June 24, 2013 – Americord today applauded a new study being conducted by Mayo Clinic to determine whether children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) can be successfully treated with stem cells from their own umbilical cord blood. HLHS is a congenital heart defect where infants are born with a severely underdeveloped left ventricle – essentially half a heart. Mayo Clinic is a non-profit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education that spends over $500 million a year on research and employs nearly 3,800 physicians and scientists.

In the United States, about 1,000 babies are born each year with HLHS. Babies with HLHS have heart valves that are either too small to allow sufficient blood flow, or valves that are closed altogether. In the study being done by Mayo Clinic, umbilical cord blood stem cells will be collected from infants born with HLHS, and they will be preserved. Approximately four to six months later, the stem cells will be injected directly into the infant’s heart muscle. Since stem cells are able to develop into many different kinds of cell types found in the human body, researchers are hopeful that this treatment will increase the strength and volume of the infant’s heart muscle and improve its ability to pump blood.

This study is intended to prove the safety and feasibility of injecting cord blood stem cells directly into the heart of newborns. If successful, it will accomplish two things; first, it will provide the groundwork for a treatment option that could extend the lives of thousands of babies born with HLHS each year, and second, it will open the door into research of dozens of different therapies for the numerous other heart defects that affect newborns. If cord blood stem cells could be used as a viable treatment method for heart defects, or at the very least could prolong the time until a more permanent treatment could be implemented, thousands of lives would be saved.

Americord is committed to supporting research into new medical therapies that use stem cells from cord blood and assisting parents whose children need their stem cells to participate in a clinical trial. The company reimburses the full cost of cord blood banking to any of its clients who enroll their babies in clinical trials that require the use of their stem cells. “By donating the cost of cord blood at such a critical moment, we hope to ease the burden that parents face and contribute to the efforts of the stem cell research community,” said Martin Smithmyer, the CEO of Americord.

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