Carolinas Cord Blood Bank
Expectant parents have an option to store umbilical cord blood after the delivery for future medical use. The initial dilemma after the decision to store cord blood is whether to donate the blood in some of the public banking facilities or to store the umbilical cord blood for private use within the family. There has been a lot of debate in the scientific and expert community regarding the ethical issues surrounding banking of stem cells. Actually, the foundation of both public and private banking systems raised plenty of medical, social, ethical and legal issues. The main issue that most of the experts find controversial is the usability of privately banked cord blood units.
Some think that families at a low risk of the development of a disease manageable by stem cell transplantation would not benefit from private banking of cord blood. Alternatively, these stem cells may be beneficial to other families at the need of transplantation. However, there are no ethical obstacles if the parents finally choose to store cord blood for private use. In any case, availability of stem cells for transplantation or research purposes should not be a privilege but a fundamental right for all.
Brief History of Public Cord Blood Banking
The success of initial transplantations of umbilical cord blood led the experts to investigate and find solutions for storage of cord blood units in order to facilitate the process of obtaining a compatible cord blood units. Creating first cord blood banks was a complex and sophisticated process requiring knowledge on how to successfully collect, transport, store and release cord blood units for cell-based treatment. The first cord blood banks were public and contained cord blood units intended for transplantation to both an unrelated and related recipients. The rapid development of public banking systems leads to the foundation of 54 public cord blood banks that released approximately 10000 of cord blood units for treatment purposes. Another benefit of public banking facilities includes the possibility that the samples of insufficient quality may be used for research and development of new therapeutic modalities in the field of regenerative medicine. In order to improve the process and facilitate the search of a compatible stem cell unit, public cord banks developed a specific electronic sharing system that serves as a unique registry of cord blood units for multiple banking facilities.
Carolinas Cord Blood Bank (CCBB) Facts
CCBB is actively supported by several most prominent health institutions including the National Institute of Health, American Red Cross, the National Marrow Donor Program and other. Founded back in 1998, CCBB represents one of the most experienced cord blood banking systems. CCBB is also one of the largest public cord blood banks in the world and represents a section of the Duke University School of Medicine.
CCBB is a banking system that stores most diverse cord blood units, meaning that search for a compatible donor should not represent an issue. Tens of thousands of families having a diverse ethnic and racial origin have donated cord blood with CCBB. This is extremely important for recipients of a diverse ethnic and racial origin to find a compatible match for transplantation purposes. CCBB released thousands of cord blood units for transplantation purposes worldwide. This public banking facility also uses cord blood samples of insufficient quality for transplant for research and development purposes. These samples are readily available for clinical studies investigating the new modalities of use of stem cells and their nature and biology.
CCBB actively works on building the largest and most diverse inventory of cord blood units for future therapeutic use in patients requiring stem-cell transplantation. CCBB also invests a lot of effort in training the personnel in order to provide the best quality of service for both the donors and recipients.
CCBB constantly aims to improve the processes of collection, processing, storage, and release of cord blood units with the final goal to improve the health outcomes following stem cell transplantation. This banking system recognizes the importance of investigating and developing new treatment modalities that include the use of stem cells. Therefore, CCBB actively participates in clinical trials that are focused on finding new therapeutic indications for stem cells originating from cord blood.
CCBB developed a collection program consisted of sampling cord blood in several hospitals in the United States or via collection kit. The team of highly skilled professionals works within the hospital and collects cord blood immediately after the baby delivery. The collection may be also done via the collection kit. The team works closely with the mother during the delivery period in order to obtained an informed consent from the mother to donate the cord blood, obtain the sample of mother’s blood for the purpose of further testing, interview the mother in order to get the information regarding the family medical history and finally collects the cord blood. The sample may be taken after the vaginal delivery or Caesarean section. The sampling of umbilical cord blood may be done after the delivery of the baby while the placenta is still in the uterus or after the delivery of the placenta.
Following the collection process, cord blood unit must be transported within the timeframe of 45 hours to the processing laboratory at the Dukes University. When the units arrive, they undergo processing that includes checking of the unit identity, testing of the unit, assessment of viability and quality of the collected unit and preparation of cord blood for further cryopreservation.
If the samples are assessed as eligible, units undergo the process of cryopreservation that includes the freezing of the units in nitrogen tanks. The temperature of tanks is constantly being monitored to ensure no temperature fluctuations that might affect unit quality. Once the unit is cryopreserved, it becomes available at National Marrow Donor Program’s Be the Match® Registry. This way, physicians may access the database and search for a compatible donor. The units are cryopreserved for at least twenty years. The current knowledge from various studies indicates that the units may be cryopreserved even longer, without any effects on the quality of stored stem cells.
Once a compatible donor has been identified, a tiny part of the unit is being extracted from the whole sample and tested to confirm the identity of the unit as well as the viability of stem cells within the sample. If the sample is confirmed as a match for transplant and viable, the unit is transported in specific frozen conditions to the site requiring the unit for transplant. Once the unit reaches the final destination, it undergoes thawing and preparation for the transplant.
CCBB with its affiliates recognizes the importance of unit quality. Therefore, CCBB has developed and constantly improves the procedures regarding the Quality Control, Regulatory aspects, and Project management with a milestone to reach the highest standards in the field of stem cell banking.