Interview with Dr. Susana Gomez, the director of the English public cord blood bank

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Dr. Susana Gomez heads a public cord blood bank Biobank created at the Anthony Nolan Centre of Cell Therapy (Nottingham, UK).

Biobank operates within the first and the world’s largest registry of hematopoietic stem cells. The cord blood Biobank, headed by Susana Gomez, stores cellular and non-cellular fractions of cord blood, that are used both clinically as hematopoietic stem cells transplants and for research purposes.

Dr. Susana Gomez kindly agreed to share experience of the organization of a public cord blood bank with the scientific staff of the Institute of Cell Therapy, and also gave a brief interview to the journal “Cell and Organ Transplantology”, which is published with the support of the Institute.

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Photo source: http://www.anthonynolan.org/

Press: Mrs. Gomez, on the example of Biobak, that you head, we would be interested to discover how the public cord blood banks are being operated in the developed countries of the world?

Susana Gomez: From the perspective in the United Kingdom, it looks so that all hematopietic stem cells registries are closely cooperating with one another.  And this is very helpful, as the transplantation centre in UK goes only to one registry and this is enough to find a matching donor. From the perspective of cord blood, this approach is also much better as cooperating banks have the same quality measurement, we have the same processes of the umbilical cord blood procession and we do the same testing of a sample. Our goal is to provide the highest quality of the transplant. And this work together is very helpful in this goal.

Press: And how many samples are stored in your bank? What is the experience of their clinical application? To which countries have you released samples?

Susana Gomez: You know that Anthony Nolan Hematopoietic Stem Cells Registry was the first in the world, it is more than 40 years old. And the Anthony Nolan cord blood bank launched 5 years ago. Actually we store about 2 000 samples. During this period we released 25 cord blood samples to transplantation centres. Our main customers are the transplantation centres in the UK and the National Bone Marrow Program (NMDP) in USA. Such geographical distribution is mediated by HLA-matching, as you understand.

Press: And how do you evaluate the place of the umbilical cord blood among the other stem cells sources? To your mind, is it better than bone marrow, worse or maybe these sources are comparable?

Susana Gomez: Yes, it is quite comparable. It gives the tranplantologists and patients two options – to use hematopoietic stem cells of an adult donor or the cord blood to achieve the best immunologic matching. These sources should not compete with one another as the umbilical cord blood is just one more source of hematopoietic stem cells. And this is really good to have the option of choice. I think, it’s great for the patient because we can save more lives

Press: What is your attitude to private cord blood banks?

Susana Gomez: Well, I am a public one! But from my point of view parents should have two options. The most important thing is that the parents receive the most accurate information and quality service regardless they go to autologous bank or to public cord blood banks.

Press: Thank you very much for the interesting talk and we wish further development for your young but already quite successful bank!

The talk was recorded by C. Nasadyuk, immunologist, PhD.

The full version of the interview will be published in the journal “Cell and Organ Transplantology”.

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