You are here

Do umbilical cord MSC need to be matched between donor and patient?

To date there have been over a thousand human clinical trials with MSC, and none have employed donor-patient matching. This is a contrast to cord blood transplants, which require a partial HLA match between the donor and the patient.

The difference exists because MSC express very low levels of the molecules (called major histocompatibility complex) that require compatibility between the donor and the patient. Hence it is safe to receive cell therapy with MSC from an unrelated donor. In fact, due to their immune-modulating abilities, MSC therapy is used to suppress auto-immune diseases and to prevent graft versus host disease (GvHD) after a transplant.

For parents, the bottom line is that you do not need to save your child's cord tissue in order to later receive MSC therapy. There are many clinics offering MSC therapy from fresh donor sources. There are some potential benefits to having personal MSC in storage, for example as a starting material for gene therapy, but it is not necessary in order to have later access to regenerative medicine with MSC.