The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has created a blood bank to harvest stems cells after the birth of a baby to make them available for research. Dr. Frederick Goldman says the stem cells are taken from umbilical chords and the placentas. Goldman says the stem cell bank was developed after a ban on the use of stem cells from embryos for research.He says scientists have been limited in finding a source of cells to work with, but they’ve known for years that umbilical cord blood is rich in what’s called “adult stem cells.” He says these adult stem cells can be manipulated into may different types of cells. Goldman, who is also a professor of pediatric medicine, says the embryonic stem cells create controversy because the embryo has to be destroyed to extract them. He says the cord blood is different because it is not part of the early embryo. He says the cells are already fully developed and we all have the adult stem cells floating in our body. Goldman says the umbilical cord and placenta offer a ready and easily-harvested source of the adult cells. He says we could collect them from out own bodies, but it would take lots of blood and processing to get enough to work with. He says the cells are highly concentrated in the blood that remains in the cord and placenta. He says the adult cells could be used in the place of embryonic cells in some cases. Goldman says new mothers and babies don’t have to do anything but give consent for the use of the cells.He says shortly after the baby is delivered, a nurse extracts the blood from the cord and placenta that otherwise would be discarded. The blood can then be frozen and used for research. Goldman says the response from parents has been good thus far. He says pretty much everyone they’ve approached has agreed to do it. The stem cell bank has been operating for about two months.
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