Upstate opens Cord Blood Bank in a ribbon-cutting ceremony

Upstate opens Cord Blood Bank in a ribbon-cutting ceremony

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Upstate Medical University officially opened the Upstate Cord Blood Bank in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, Feb. 9.

The $15 million, 20,000 square foot facility features a state of theart processing laboratory and cryogenic storage containers that canstore nearly 14,500 units of cord blood. The building is located onUpstate’s Community Campus, 4910 Broad Road in Syracuse, home toUpstate’s obstetric services.

The bank will collect, test, process, store and distribute umbilicalcord blood donated by families throughout central and northern New Yorkto be used by those in need of life-saving medical treatments and formedical research.

The bank is currently accepting cord blood donations from familieswho give birth at Upstate’s Community Campus. Cord blood donations willbe accepted from families who give birth at Crouse Hospital and St.Joseph’s Hospital Health Center as early as summer 2017. Agreements withother area hospitals will be forthcoming.

Umbilical cord blood is blood that remains in the placenta andumbilicalcord after childbirth. Cord blood that is not donated isdiscarded asmedical waste. It is a rich source of hematopoietic stemcells that havethe potential of being used in the treatment of dozensof diseases,like blood cancers and bone marrow diseases such as sicklecell anemia.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco played a key role in securing the $15million funding for the building, enabling Syracuse to have one of onlytwo public cord blood banks in New York and one of only 32 in the UnitedStates.

“The Upstate Cord Blood Bank responds directly to the mission of ouracademic medical center,” said Upstate President Danielle Laraque-Arena,MD, FAAP. “It is a community resource that will improve the health ofindividuals here, throughout our region and beyond. Whether the cordblood is used for transplantation or research, we are providing hope ofbetter health and new treatments.”

Laraque-Arena said she was grateful for the support of New York StateSen. John DeFrancisco. “I applaud Senator DeFrancisco’s efforts to movethis project forward and to enable Upstate to be at the forefront ofthis impactful initiative,” Laraque-Arena said.

“The Upstate Cord Blood Bank is a project near and dear to my heart,”said DeFrancisco.  “It’s a project that has been a long time coming,and I am absolutely ecstatic that the public bank is now open andreceiving donations of umbilical cord blood. I look forward towitnessing the many cures that will result from having the use of cordblood available right here in Upstate.”

Upstate’s Robert Corona, DO, MBA, professor and chair of theDepartment of Pathology, said the Upstate Cord Blood Bank would put togood use what is often referred to as medical waste.“The blood from theumbilical cord and placenta, “cord blood,” contains hematopoietic stemcells that have potential to treat many diseases including cancer,genetic disorders and blood disorders,” he said. “What was once medicalwaste becomes a source of life saving cells and a significantcontribution to the field of regenerative medicine. Stem cells showgreat potential in treating all sorts of neurologic disorders includingmetabolic disorders, spastic cerebral palsy and autism. We are trulyfortunate to have a new Cord Blood Bank in our community as acutting-edge patient care and research resource.”

Nicholas Greco, PhD, executive director and tissue bank director ofthe Upstate Cord Blood Bank, said the use of cord blood in treatment forvarious diseases has expanded. “Historically, cord blood from publicbanks in transplantation has focused on the safety and use inregenerating dysfunctional or damaged bone marrow. But, within the lastdecade, family banks have focused on using cord blood- and cordtissue-derived stem cells to replace or regenerate human cells, tissueor organs, to restore or establish normal function (regenerativemedicine). These emerging uses, extend patient options for treatment andcures.”

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher applauded the opening of the UpstateCord Blood Bank. “New York’s ongoing investment in medical research andeducation provides far reaching benefits for our students and faculty aswell as communities not only in New York state but around the globe,”Zimpher said. “Congratulations to President Laraque-Arena and the entireSUNY Upstate community on the opening of this new facility, which iscertain to advance research in a vital field of study, enhance patientcare, and provide new educational opportunities for students.”

Designation as a public cord blood bank
The designation of Upstate Cord Blood Bank as a public blood bank isimportant in that there is no cost to donate and donated cord blood isavailable to anyone who needs it. Once donated, the cord blood will bestored in the bank and made available to transplant centers in theUnited States and throughout the world for patients needing life-savingtransplants. The cord blood units will be listed initially on the BoneMarrow Donors Worldwide registry and on the Be The Match registrymaintained by the National Marrow Donor Program, which maintains a largelisting of cord blood units available for transplant. Those units thatare not suitable for transplantation will be made available toresearchers, both at Upstate Medical University and around the country.

The Upstate Cord Blood Bank will in the near future open a familycord blood bank that will collect, test, process, store, and distribute ababy’s umbilical cord blood only for use by families who have a needfor future use. An initial fee and annual fee will be charged forcollection, processing and storage of umbilical cord blood in the familybank.

The Upstate Cord Blood Bank will operate under strict guidelines andprotocols, established by state and federal health organizations,including the state Health Department, the Food and Drug Administration(FDA), AABB and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy(FACT).

As is currently under way at Crouse Hospital and St. Joseph’sHospital Health Center, Upstate will work with regional hospitals todevelop guidelines and agreements to enable mothers who deliver in thesefacilities the ability to donate their cord blood for free.

Upstate officials hope the cord blood bank will ultimately receivedonations from 10,000 births a year, which would represent 50 percent ofthe approximately 20,000 births in Central New York annually.

How is cord blood donated
Once a mother has delivered her baby and after the umbilical cord isclamped and cut as is done with all deliveries, a medical provider willinsert a needle into the umbilical vein that is still attached to theplacenta. The process, which takes less than 10 minutes, yields about 3to 5 ounces of cord blood, which is then sent to the Upstate Cord BloodBank for testing, processing and storage. There is no pain for themother or baby nor is their safety compromised during the delivery.

Treatments with cord blood
Stem cell transplants from umbilical cord blood, researchers say, may bemore suitable for transplants than the more common stem cells takenfrom bone marrow as treatment for various cancers. Umbilical cord bloodhas an underdeveloped immune cell system providing less of a chance thatthe transplanted cells will attack the recipient’s immune system.Hematopoietic stem cells are capable of forming all different types ofblood forming cells in the human body. They are used to treat somecancers, metabolic disorders and immunodeficiency diseases, and bonemarrow disorders, such as sickle cell anemia. Cord blood is rich inthese hematopoietic stem cells.

Research with cord blood
Umbilical cord blood stem cells will be valuable for medical research,in studies seeking to advance new treatments for cancer and using cordblood to treat and cure diseases that are not cancers, that is, inregenerative medicine applications. These latter applications mayregenerate new tissues such as heart, muscle, skin, and neuronaltissues. Some Upstate researchers have expressed an interest in workingwith stem cells from umbilical cord blood. An available supply of cordblood would enhance and expedite research studies on finding newtreatments for various diseases.

Upstate Cord Blood Bank credits:  Architect: Francis Cauffman, NewYork, N.Y. Engineer: Buro Happold Engineers, New York, N.Y., ProjectManagement: Pike Construction Company, Rochester, N.Y.; GeneralContractor: Murnane Building Contractors, East Syracuse, N.Y.

Caption: Cutting the ribbon to open the Upstate Cord Blood Bank are, from left, Nicole Moore, the first donor to the cord blood bank (she donated the cord blood after her baby Jackson was born Feb. 2); State Sen. John DeFrancisco; Jared Saya, who received a cord blood transplant as a young child for a cancer treatment; Nick Greco, PhD., executive director and tissue bank director ofthe Upstate Cord Blood Bank; Upstate Medical University President Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, FAAP; and Geralyn Saya, Jared's mother.