Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

HJR 48: Medical, Ethical, & Scientific Issues Relating to Stem Cell Research

October 17, 2006

The joint subcommittee, chaired by Delegate Robert G. Marshall, decided at its first meeting of the interim to focus on the efforts of the Cord Blood Bank Initiative, which was passed in the 2006 General Assembly Session. Staff was asked to prepare presentations on the progress of the initiative for the second meeting.

VDH Update

The first presentation was given by staff on behalf of Dr. David Suttle of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) regarding its progress in establishing the Cord Blood Bank Initiative. The VDH is just in the beginning stages of understanding the complex accreditation process, as well as the feasibility and constraints within the existing appropriation. One problem is the existing cord blood storage capacity. The VDH will investigate the possibilities of expansion within existing facilities, as well as creating new capacity within the Commonwealth and partnering with out-of-state entities for storage.

An important next step for the VDH will be finding a subject matter expert to serve as project manager for the Cord Blood Bank Initiative. The VDH hopes to find an expert by November 2006, when it plans to convene a statewide consortium of interested parties and establish task subcommittees.

Clinical Trials

Staff made a presentation of some of the current clinical trials relating to umbilical cord blood. Of the many trials detailed on ClinicalTrials.gov, a website maintained by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), staff described four which were particularly relevant to the work of the subcommit-tee. Each of the clinical trials involved the use of umbilical cord blood to treat different diseases, ranging from different types of cancers, to sickle cell disease, to type-one diabetes. All four studies are either fully or partially funded by NIH.

Federal & Other State Legislation

Staff presented a review of legislation from the federal government and other states relating to cord blood banking. In December of 2005, President Bush signed H.R. 2520, which created a new federal program to collect and store cord blood, similar to the measure passed last Session in Virginia. Currently, because of the language of the bill, Virginia's Cord Blood Bank Initiative is not compatible with the federal program. Because of the significant amount of federal funding involved, and because several states already have hospitals participating in the federal program, the joint subcommittee members questioned whether the Commonwealth should consider taking part in this federal program. Cord blood legislation from other states falls into three basic categories:

• Legislation to educate expectant mothers about umbilical cord blood banking.
• Education awareness programs for the public on the benefits of cord blood banking.
• Legislation establishing public cord blood banks.

Staff explained several differences between the 2006 Virginia legislation and that of other states. For example, the Commonwealth, unlike some states, does not require that all pregnant women be notified of the opportunity to donate cord blood. There also is no requirement to educate the public about the difference between private and public cord blood banking.

Next Meeting

The joint subcommittee decided to hold a meeting in early November to hear an update from the VDH on the progress of the Cord Blood Bank Initiative. The meeting, scheduled for November 13, 2006, will also be a work session to develop ideas for possible legislation that the subcommittee may recommend during the 2007 Session of the General Assembly.

The Hon. Robert G. Marshall

For information, contact:
Jessica Eades and Nikki Seeds, DLS Staff


Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

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