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Research using autologous cord blood — time for a policy change

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It is now well established that type 1 diabetes is a chronic, multifactorial disease that results from autoimmune-mediated destruction of pancreatic β cells. However, no intervention has successfully prevented the disease to date. Recently, reinfusion of autologous umbilical cord blood has been proposed as a novel preventive therapy and is the focus of an Australian Phase I trial, the Cord Reinfusion in Diabetes (CoRD) pilot study (https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=363694). However, the use of publicly stored cord blood for research in Australia is currently limited by policy that restricts its use to recognised indications, including allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation for oncological, haematological, genetic and immunological disorders. There are also specific ethical issues associated with the collection and storage of cord blood, including storage (public v private), informed consent (from whom, when and how?), ownership (does it belong to the child or the parent?), access (exclusive autologous v allogeneic use) and the principle of beneficence.1

A substantial…