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Blood. 2012 Mar 1;119(9):1972-80. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-11-354563. Epub 2011 Dec 30.

Selection of optimal alternative graft source: mismatched unrelated donor, umbilical cord blood, or haploidentical transplant.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Only 30% of patients who require an allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant will have an HLA-matched sibling donor. A search for an unrelated donor will be undertaken for patients without a matched family donor. However, many patients, particularly patients of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, may not be able to rapidly identify a suitably matched unrelated donor. Three alternative graft sources, umbilical cord blood (UCB), haploidentical (haplo)-related donor, and mismatched unrelated donor (MMUD) are available. UCB is associated with decreased GVHD, but hematologic recovery and immune reconstitution are slow. Haplo-HCT is characterized by donor availability for transplantation and after transplantation adoptive cellular immunotherapy but may be complicated by a high risk of graft failure and relapse. A MMUD transplant may also be an option, but GVHD may be of greater concern. Phase 2 studies have documented advances in HLA typing, GVHD prophylaxis, and infection prevention, which have improved survival. The same patient evaluated in different transplant centers may be offered MMUD, UCB, or haplo-HCT depending on center preference. In this review, we discuss the rationale for donor choice and the need of phase 3 studies to help answer this important question.

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