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University of Colorado gets federal award for Cord Blood Bank

AURORA, Colorado (Oct. 6, 2010) The University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank, a component of ClinImmune Labs and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has been awarded $6.3 million to collect and bank umbilical cord blood, with an emphasis on donors from minority groups.

The three-year grant is from the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Umbilical cord blood, collected from the placenta after a baby is born, is rich in stem cells and can be used to treat patients with blood-related illnesses such as leukemia.

ClinImmune Labs is an academic component of the medical school that provides genetic testing for transplant patients in addition to stem cell processing and umbilical cord blood banking. The bank will use the funding to support an additional 5,000 cord blood units.

"We are so grateful to the Colorado women who selflessly donate their babies' cord blood to our public bank and to the hospitals that collect this life-saving product," says Brian Freed, PhD, professor of medicine and immunology at CU's School of Medicine and executive director of ClinImmune Labs.

The grant will also allow expansion of cord blood collection to Arizona in collaboration with the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission.

This contract will focus on collecting cord blood from minorities in order to expand the cord blood bank's genetic diversity and increase the chances for minority patients requiring cord blood transplantation to find a genetic match.

Freed says having the right cord blood available can be a matter of life and death.

"Currently, almost 10,000 leukemia patients needing a bone marrow transplant die every year in the U.S. because they cannot find a suitably matched stem cell donor," Freed says. "Cord blood transplants now make up one quarter of all bone marrow transplants in this country, compared to less than 2 percent in 2000. Caucasian patients have a 90 percent chance of finding a well-matched cord blood donor, but African-American patients have only a 50 percent chance."

Three Colorado hospitals will participate as part of the federal contract renewal: Denver Health Medical Center and Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver, and Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. In addition, the cord blood bank is expanding cord blood collections to women delivering at other hospitals throughout Colorado through the Adult Stem Cell Cure Fund.


Contact: Dan Meyers
University of Colorado Denver

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