Cord blood is most viable for stem-cell research

The American Heart Association’s (AHA) decision in early July to support the use of federal funds for stem-cell research was met with an endorsement from the Cord Blood Registry.

The San Bruno, CA-based Cord Blood Registry is the nation’s largest cord blood stem-cell bank, with more than 20,000 individuals with stored stem cells.

"Umbilical cord blood represents an easily accessible and high quality source of stem cells that does not involve fetuses, but rather a unique and invaluable byproduct of a new life," says Paul R. Billings, MD, PhD, medical consultant to the Cord Blood Registry.

AHA officials say stem cells could help people suffering from heart disease, strokes, and other ailments. The primary sources of stem cells, however, — aborted fetuses or discarded human embryos —have created controversy among some medical ethicists and anti-abortion groups.

The AHA estimates that 128 million Americans have ailments that could be treated or cured with discoveries from stem-cell research, such as cardiovascular disease and stroke, which the AHA reports are the No. 1 and No. 3 killers in the United States.