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Jose Cirino, Director of Operations for GeneCell International, Accentuates the Importance Surrounding the Minority Community
Date:3/31/2013

news today. May this be the reason they are choosing to have no part in it and ignore it? “If so, this is not the case, these cells are found in adults and there are not controversial, moral, ethical or have any political issues surrounding them. The amazing thing about these cells, aside from their potential to treat a variety of different diseases, is that for the most part they can be harvested from the individual through relatively minimally invasive procedures and can be cryogenically frozen (at a temperature of -321 F [-196 C]) and stored for decades until a disease manifests itself or the needed for cell-based therapies arises," said Cirino.

“Due to this lack of awareness, there is a massive shortage of stem cell units stored for future treatments. This shortage, or lack of availability, is mostly affecting patients of African, Asian, Hispanic and Native American Indian descent. I, being a minority member of this group, am very concerned by this shortage.” Since patients who need a transplant are more likely to find a match within their own genetic background, Cirino adds it is important that the pool of donors reflects the overall community.

“A person’s blood stem cell type is inherited, which means a patient is more likely to find a matched donor from within their own ethnic group, more than half of cord blood donations and privately banked cord blood in the United States are from Caucasians while minorities remain underrepresented, significantly. By increasing awareness of the advantages of cord blood among minorities, there is a potential for increased access to therapies for more people.”

Umbilical cord blood preservation is a process by which blood is collected from the umbilical cord of a newborn baby and is stored cryogenically in a specially-designated bank. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, cord blood contains cells that can be transfused to a patient to treat various diseases, including lymphoma and leukem
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