I am a bone marrow transplant specialist with expertise in allogeneic transplantation, the use of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells from a donor other than the patient to treat blood and bone marrow diseases. I am particularly interested in the use of umbilical cord blood from healthy newborns as a source of stem cells. While transplantation of stem cells from a healthy sibling or an unrelated volunteer adult donor can cure many patients with blood diseases, patients often do not have a suitably matched donor, especially patients of Southern European, mixed, and non-European (e.g. Hispanic, African, or Asian) backgrounds. In addition, searches for unrelated donors can be unacceptably slow.
Cord blood is an alternative source of hematopoietic stem cells and has a number of advantages over blood or bone marrow from an unrelated donor: it is less important to find a perfect HLA (tissue type) match; cord blood is more rapidly available; and there is a lower risk of a serious transplant complication called graft-versus-host disease, which occurs when the transplanted cells attack the body’s normal tissues.