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California Bill To Increase Cord Blood Funding

California state Legislature is considering a bill that would increase funding for the collection of umbilical cord blood, instrumental in treatment of many life-threatening diseases that is in short supply for minorities, especially Latinos and Armenians, officials say.

The Assembly Committee on Appropriations is slated to take up the funding proposal in a bill written by local Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino as lawmakers work to push several bills before the current legislative session ends. The bill would increase the supply of cord blood from minority groups.

Umbilical cord blood, which is extracted painlessly from the umbilical cord after a new birth, can be used as a substitute for marrow to treat a series of life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia, lymphoma and some cancers, through transplants, said Maria Spencer, director of legislative relations for the National Marrow Donor Program, which runs a national registry of marrow donors and stored cord-blood units.

The blood has been proven to treat nine diseases, and scientists are experimenting with using the transplants for up to seventy various illnesses and afflictions.

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