The Future of Public Cord Blood Banking


Public cord blood banks face hardships

You’re here because you may be contemplating your options when it comes to donating your child’s cord blood to a public bank, or storing it privately with a family cord blood bank. First off, kudos to you for recognizing the importance of umbilical stem cells. There are, undoubtedly, some exciting discoveries of what is and can be made possible with cord blood and cord tissue transplantation.

There are several benefits that both the public and private banks provide for families in need. However, banking privately with a family cord blood bank, such as Cryo-Cell International, provides parents with greater assurance, and more control over the future outcomes of procedures.

Public cord blood banks are facing some unique challenges with sustainability, donor diversity, and financial woes, which are forcing many public cord blood banks to shut down their facilities. With looming problems ahead, some people question the long-term future of the public banking sector. Let’s take a look at some of the issues within the public banking system and outline the unique benefits of private cord blood banking.

Importance of Umbilical Stem Cells

Since the first successful umbilical cord stem cell transplant performed in 1988, there have been over 40,000 transplantations performed worldwide. Cord blood and cord tissue continue to be used in various clinical trials for the treatment of several conditions and diseases. The FDA has standardized the treatment of cord blood in nearly 80 diseases. However, science is uncovering more exciting findings revealing just how special umbilical stem cells are.  Learn more about recent clinical trials involving cord blood and cord tissue.

Issues with Public Cord Blood Banking

Donor Variety

Studies indicate when donor cells closely match a patient, the chances of transplant success improve. However, certain populations are having a difficult time finding a suitable match in the public inventory. Research given on the topic of public banking highlights the critical demand for cord blood donors who are of mixed ethnicities and races. Caucasians without a matched, related donor have a 70% chance of finding a matching donor, and only a 10% chance for other or mixed ethnicities. Banking privately ensures that your child’s umbilical stem cells are exclusively available to your family; their cord blood and cord tissue is always a perfect match for them, and a suitable match for their siblings, you, or someone in your family should you need it.

Collection Ineligibility

Eligibility for umbilical stem cell donation can be strict with many donations falling short of minimum cell count, blood volume, or other donation criteria. Other factors, like the mother’s health, can impose on public donation success. Nearly 70% of cord blood donations are discarded for not meeting processing and storage requirements. Storing cord blood and tissue for private use allows families to have more leeway in storing, and more freedom for potential use.

Unequal Standards

The AABB and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy together with NetCord (NetCord-FACT) have developed international standards for cord blood banking quality management systems, and requirements that both private and public banks can choose to follow for all collected specimens. As of 2009, public cord blood banks are required to have approval from the FDA biologics license application (BLA), or subject to an investigational new drug (IND). However, due to the amount of time and costs to procure licensure, some banks are operating while still in the process. Other differences include:

  • Disparities among public banks with factors like transit time, storage temperature, and the quality of units collected, which can result in viability issues.
  • Lack of uniform quality management systems among domestic and international public banks.
  • Lack of participation in public cord blood banking among hospitals; there are fewer than 200 U.S. hospitals. More than 80% of umbilical cord stem cells are not collected, and sadly, go to waste.

Banking with Cryo-Cell International allows families to collect at any hospital around the world through the use of our advanced collection kit. Read more about the features of our collection kit.

Strictly Cord Blood

Most private banks offer families the option to collect and store both their child’s cord blood and cord tissue. Currently, public banks do not have the means to process and store cord tissue. This puts families at a severe disadvantage in future treatment possibilities. The mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) found in cord tissue have been used in several clinical trial studies for the treatment of autism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, orthopedic, as well as other neurological and degenerative conditions.

Resource Scarcity

Considering that a large number of units are discarded because of the limited number of participating hospitals involved in public donation collection, inadequate blood volume or cell counts among collections, faulty handling of retrieved specimens, and more stringent regulations, it is becoming increasingly difficult to establish an inventory of quality cord blood units.

RAND researchers reported that public banks collect an average of 8,500 units each year, but ultimately only store anywhere from 5-40% of those collections. In addition to a dwindling supply issue, there is also an issue of expense. The average cost of a cord blood unit is $40,000. Many families choose to bank privately, because the cost to finance over a long period of time, for a unit that is more suitably matched, is worth the peace of mind.

Hybrid Banking Models

Many public banks are now adopting a hybrid model to join forces with private cord blood banks. Cryo-Cell operates as one such cord blood bank in partnership with Duke University Medical Center. Cryo-Cell's public bank has been chosen by the HRSA of the U.S. Department of Health, along with other leading banks such as those operated by M.D. Anderson and Duke University, as one of the nation's highest quality cord blood banks to help build the National Cord Blood Inventory.

Umbilical stem cells play an important role in regenerative therapies. The need for cord blood and cord tissue will continue to see an increase in demand because of their unique regenerative characteristics and successful transplantation results. As medical science unveils more about what is made possible, we hope that more parents make the informed decision to save their little one’s umbilical stem cells. We also hope that parents will take one step further, and make the decision to bank privately with Cryo-Cell.

The future of public cord blood banking will continue to be called into question, and we may see more of a shift into hybrid models. Cryo-Cell International has welcomed this trend to accommodate the needs of our families and will continue to stand as a pioneer within the industry of private cord blood banking.

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Last Updated on: 07/25/2019 by Amy Schmidt