12.20.05

Burr Applauds Signing of Bipartisan Cord Blood Legislation into Law

Burr, co-sponsor of legislation, cites North Carolina’s contributions

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Richard Burr today applauded President George W. Bush's signing into law the bipartisan Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005. The law, co-sponsored by Senator Burr, establishes a public network of human umbilical cord blood stem cell banks to store cord blood units for the treatment of diseases such as leukemia, sickle cell anemia and diabetes. The law also reauthorizes the National Marrow Donor Program. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI) and John Ensign (R-NV) joined Senator Burr in co-sponsoring the legislation.

"This law will help provide adult stem cell transplant material for those patients who need it, and also provide adult stem cells for scientific research," said Senator Burr. "Cord blood has the potential to save the lives of countless patients nationwide and I am pleased new medical research opportunities will now be available."

The law calls for the collection and maintenance of 150,000 units of cord blood, mandates a single electronic database matching cord blood units and bone marrow donors, encourages cord blood donations from a genetically diverse population and ensures cord blood units will be made available for research. As part of the legislation, qualified cord blood banks would have the option of providing free collection and storage of cord blood units for families with an ill child or parent who could be treated later with a cord blood transplant.

"I am proud of the valuable work and research taking place in North Carolina," Senator Burr added. "In particular, Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg of Duke University, the Director of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, is leading the fight on diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer's. Dr. Kurtzberg and her team are pioneers in the field, having already performed more than 600 cord blood transplants with unrelated donors - more than anyone else in the world."