NMDP welcomes IOM recommendation for fully integrated cord blood system


Approves of process but disagrees on duplicative structure

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.– The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), the largest national registry of both cord blood and adult donors, agreed with the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) recommendation today calling for an integrated national cord blood and adult donor program and applauded the recommendation to fully fund that program.

The IOM report recognized the desirability of 'one-stop-shopping' for all sources of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPC). However, it concluded that a new government structure must be established because the IOM believes that a mechanism for searching all HPCs does not exist. NMDP has already developed such a mechanism, making additional government bureaucracy unnecessary.

"We appreciate the challenge IOM faced in addressing questions of structure, access and the science of cord blood, particularly given the limitations on time and budget," said Dr. Jeffrey W. Chell, NMDP chief executive officer. "Unfortunately, due to these resource constraints, IOM was not able to visit NMDP to see that the 'one-stop shopping' approach, including the single-search algorithm, already exists in NMDP's coordinated network. The bottom line is, we have already developed the system that the IOM is recommending. We look forward to working with all parties involved to make the system even better."

"Patients and their physicians are the biggest beneficiaries of an integrated national cord blood program because it speeds broader access to life-saving cord blood, marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplants," Chell said. "We agree with the IOM's conclusion that the cell 'source chosen must be driven by patient needs and anticipated outcomes on the basis of the best available evidence,' which is how our single-search algorithm works."

The NMDP is the largest registry of cord blood units in the country (more than 40,000 units), an international cord blood registry and the largest Registry of marrow donors in the world (more than 5.5 million adult donors). Fourteen of the 20 U.S. public cord blood banks already participate in NMDP's network and list their cords on the NMDP Registry. Member U.S. transplant centers have electronic access to the NMDP search databases, which shortens the average search time for donors and cord blood units to seconds.

"We commend the IOM for calling for the inclusion of many important elements in a national program such as uniform standards and practices, FDA licensure of cords, protection of patient rights, and use of a single database to collect outcomes," Chell added. "But we should be careful about diverting scarce public resources away from the important task of increasing the inventory of cords, or risk slowing patient access to this vital, life-saving resource of cord blood."

The NMDP is governed by an independent board with representation from cord blood banks, transplant centers, transplant medicine and patient advocacy organizations. In addition to the centralized database that allows transplant coordinators to search all compatible HPC sources (including cord blood, marrow and adult peripheral blood) simultaneously, the NMDP collects outcomes data from all cord blood transplants facilitated in its network. This important data is used to further advance transplantation through various research initiatives. To support the quality assurance activities at the member cord blood banks, the NMDP provides outcomes data directly.

The IOM recommendations, issued today in a report, "Cord Blood: Establishing a National Hematopoietic Stem Cell Bank Program," come in response to a 2004 request by Congress, which asked the IOM to provide an assessment of existing cord blood programs and inventories and to make recommendations to enhance the structure, function and utility of such programs.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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