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In 2022, which is preferred: haploidentical or cord transplant?

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the treatment of choice for high-risk hematological malignancies such as acute myeloid and lymphocytic leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and myeloproliferative disorders. Alternative donor transplantation from either haploidentical (haplo-SCT) or cord blood donor (CBT) is an established therapeutic alternative for patients who need transplants but lack a human leukocyte antigen-matched donor. Although haplo-SCT (mainly non-T-cell-depleted haplo-SCT with posttransplant cyclophosphamide) is increasing while CBT is decreasing worldwide (Figure 1), recent developments in CBT, especially cord blood expansion and other strategies to improve engraftment and immune reconstitution post-CBT, make CBT still a valuable option. This article discusses the 2 options based on the currently available data, focusing on adults, and tries to give some clues to help the transplant physician choose a haploidentical vs a cord blood donor. Given the limited numbers of published or ongoing well-designed randomized controlled trials comparing haplo-SCT to CBT and the overall similar clinical results in the available, mostly registry-based, and single-center studies, with substantial heterogeneity and variability, the decision to perform haplo-SCT or CBT in a given patient depends not only on the patient, disease, and donor characteristics and donor availability (although most if not all patients should have in principle an alternative donor) but also on the transplant physician's discretion and, most importantly, the center's experience and preference and ongoing protocols and strategies.

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