Cord blood: source of life
On Tuesday, February 11, the Club of Foreign Residents (CREM) invited the recently created non-for-profit Monegasque association “Cordons de Vie” (Cords of Life), to address their members. Mme Fabienne Mourou, President, two of the members of the Administrative Council, Anne Poyard Vatrican, General Secretary and Isabelle Drescher, Treasurer, gave an informative and passionate presentation on the latest advances in the research of umbilical cord stem cells and the mission and objectives of their young association. The goals of “Cordons de Vie” are: (1) Support research on stem cells recovered from the umbilical cord and/or placenta; (2) Assist in the treatment of blood diseases, particularly sickle cell anemia, a genetic blood disorder found most often in France and other countries in Europe but, above all in Africa. The association works in close collaboration with Monacord at the Monaco Scientific Center as well as the Monaco International Cooperation and other associations working in this field; (3) Collaborate with the Monaco maternity unit to retrieve umbilical cord blood and ultimately assist in the creation of a Bio-resource center in Monaco; (4) Create awareness among the general public on the latest research findings and keep them abreast of specific results achieved with patients.
A prestigious Scientific Committee
The association’s Scientific Committee, composed of highly reputed professionals, provides necessary and useful advice to the members of the Administrative Board with respect to the scientific validity of projects received that require financial aid. They will also help centralize and exchange scientific information related to both the umbilical cord well as adult stem cells, including induced pluripotent cells (IPS). And finally promote a fluid communication concerning the goals of the association. The President of the Scientific Committee is Eliane Gluckman, Professor of Hematology at the University of Paris (Diderot) and Former Head of the Hematology Department at the Saint Louis Hospital, and a world pioneer in the transplant of umbilical cord stem cells since 1988 (Prof Gluckman on the photo). The coordinator is Doctor Christophe Robino, Head of the Service of Nephrology and Dialysis at the Princess Grace Hospital in Monaco, and former intern and Clinical Chief of the Paris Hospitals. He is also a member of the Diocesan Bioethical Committee in Monaco and Member of the Monaco National Council (Monegasque Parliament). Among the other qualified members are: Dr Helene Carsenti, Doctor in Pharmacy and former intern of the Paris Hospitals, she was Head of the Laboratory Anti-biology and Research, Infectious Diseases Service in Nice. She is Expert to the European Commission on various medical files. Didi Jasmin is Executive Director of the European School of Hematology within the Research Institute for Leukemia and blood disorders – HAYEM Center, Saint Louis Hospital. Dr Bernard Flipo, Head of Gynecological, Mammary and General Oncology surgery, Head of the surgical/anesthetic department of the Antoine Lacassagne Center in Nice. Court Expert. Dr Danielle Lena, Doctor in Pharmacy, former intern of the Marseille Hospitals, former Director of CERGM, Member of the Faculty of Medicine in Marseille (Laboratory specializing in the study of genetic hemoglobin diseases. National neonatal testing for sickle cell diseases in France.) Dr Claire Liberatore, medical Gynecologist, former intern and Head of Clinic of the Paris Hospitals, now working at the Princess Grace Hospital in Monaco.
About cord blood stem cells
Umbilical cord blood was once discarded as waste material but is now known to be a useful source of blood stem cells. After a baby is born, cord blood is left in the umbilical cord and placenta and is relatively easy to collect, with no risk to the mother or baby. It contains hematopoietic (blood) stem cells (HSCs): rare cells normally found in the bone marrow, and are able to make every type of cell in the blood – red cells, white cells and platelets, and are responsible for maintaining blood production throughout our lives. They have been used for many years in bone marrow transplants to treat blood diseases. Today doctors use cord blood cells to treat many diseases, mostly anemia or cancers of the blood, such as leukemia and lymphomas. Now scientists are finding that stem cells from umbilical cord blood that were thought to be only capable of turning into blood cells, may also be capable to grow into other kinds of cells. But while experts have a positive outlook on the future of cord blood as a source for new stem cell therapies, they disagree about how this potentially life-saving resource should be handled. For the therapies, doctors typically obtain cord blood from the placentas of volunteer donors after they give birth. The blood is then banked with one of several public registries. If the donor and patient aren’t genetically similar enough, the patient’s body will reject the transfusion. The result can be fatal. Scientists would prefer parents donate cord blood to a central reserve that’s available to everyone, strengthening existing public banks where everyone can deposit into and everyone can draw from. It is important to point out that over the last 20 years more than 20,000 patients worldwide have had umbilical cord blood transplants. There are over 130 public cord blood banks in 35 countries that are Government regulated and comply with international safety, quality and ethical standards.
You may also become part of the team
You are invited to join the association and participate in our projects through your membership and donations. In that way you will be supporting scientific and ethical work on umbilical cord or placental stem cells, thus contributing to the developmental research into cellular therapy and regenerative medicine. You will also be assisting in the development of already-existing treatments to cure the most serious illnesses, and foremost helping people living in continental Africa to benefit from stem cell based treatments essential for their survival. As a member you will be kept regularly informed of the latest advances of this innovative research and its application. You will also contribute to the increase in the number of participating maternity units committed to retrieving umbilical cord blood and ultimately the creation of public cord blood banks.
For information and membership visit www.cordonsdevie.com