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Branson makes a move into biotech

A storage business that will let families bank stem cells from their child’s umbilical cord was launched today by Sir Richard Branson.

Future advances in medical technology, many scientists believe, will use stem cells to cure a number of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The new bank will split the donated cord blood in two, putting some into a national bank and the other half into private storage. With dual banking, parents will be able to access their child’s stem cells for the future possibilities of regenerative medicine, and they can also donate cells to anyone who needs them for treatments.

The adult stem cells that will be stored are taken from umbilical cord blood, which is normally discarded after a child is born, and thus using these cells as treatments presents no ethical issues.