Smith hails reauthorization of his Stem Cell Research law

Julis “Dr J” Erving joined Congressman Chris Smith at a 2005 press conference calling for the passage of the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act

The House of Representatives debated today the reauthorization of the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, legislation authored by Congressman Chris Smith in 2005 and reauthorized in 2015. The chamber is expected to pass the bill without opposition later this week.

Smith was unable to participate in the floor debate because he was in New Jersey for the funeral of his mother-in-law, Margaret Hahn, the former borough clerk of Sayreville.

Smith entered the following remarks into the Congressional Record, on behalf of his bill:

Madam Speaker, today the House of Representatives will vote to reauthorize the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act.

   This was an original idea of mine 20 years ago. Joined by 70 cosponsors, I introduced it in 2001 and again in 2003.

   After five long years of hard work and numerous setbacks, my bill was finally enacted into law in 2005.

President George W. Bush signed the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 into law on December 20, 2005

   Beginning in 2001, Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, who is President of the Cord Blood Association, helped draft my original law. Dr. Kurtzberg has said, “Cord blood transplantation is now an established field with enormous potential. In the future, it may emerge as a source of cells for cellular therapies focused on tissue repair and regeneration.”

The new law created a nationwide umbilical cord blood stem cell program, designed to collect, derive, type, and freeze cord blood units for transplantation into patients to mitigate and to even cure serious disease. Pursuant to the law, it also provided stem cells for research. The new cord blood program was combined in our 2005 law with an expanded bone marrow initiative, which was crafted over several years by our distinguished colleague, Congressman Bill Young.

I was the prime sponsor again when it was reauthorized in 2015.

   Umbilical cord blood stem cells, obtained after the birth of a child, have proved highly efficacious in treating 70 diseases, including sickle-cell disease, lymphoma, and leukemia. And scientists are continuing to study and better understand the regenerative effects of cord blood cell therapies for other diseases and conditions. Bone marrow donations provide lifesaving transplants to treat diseases like blood cancer, sickle cell anemia, or inherited metabolic or immune system disorders.

   The National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) provides funding to public cord blood banks participating in the program to allow them to expand the national inventory of cord blood units available for transplant. These units are then listed on the registry by the “Be the Match” Program. The funds appropriated thus far have led to an important increase in the overall number of high-quality cord blood units available through the national registry, including 150,000 NCBI units. Within the Be the Match registry, there are more than 783,000 NCBI units worldwide.

   The Program registry allows patients and physicians to locate matching cord blood units, as well as adult donors for marrow and peripheral blood stem cells, when a family donor is not available. The Program is the world’s largest, most diverse donor registry, with more than 22 million volunteers and more than 300,000 public cord blood units.  To date, the National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match (NMDP), through its operation of the Program, has facilitated more than 100,000 transplants.  More than 45,000 patients have received cord blood transplants, according Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg.

The reauthorization before us authorizes $23 million to be appropriated for fiscal year 2021 through fiscal year 2025. It also authorizes $30 million to be appropriated for fiscal years 2021 through 2025 for the bone marrow transplant program. This continues funding at the same levels authorized in the 2015 authorization bill.

   Madam Speaker, each year nearly 4 million babies are born in America. In the past, virtually every placenta and umbilical cord was tossed as medical waste. Today, doctors have turned this medical waste into medical miracles.

   Not only has God in His wisdom and goodness created a placenta and umbilical cord to nurture and protect the precious life of an unborn child, but now we know that another gift awaits us immediately after birth. Something very special is left behind–cord blood that is teeming with lifesaving stem cells. Indeed, it remains one of the best kept secrets in America that umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells in general are curing people of a myriad of terrible conditions and diseases–over 70 diseases in adults as well as in children.

 The legislation that is before us will enable even more patients to receive the treatments that they so desperately need.

Posted: September 29th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Smith hails reauthorization of his Stem Cell Research law

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