A technique that takes “master cells” from an umbilical cord may remove the need for matched bone marrow transplants, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the US.

Cells extracted from a baby’s umbilical cord could be used in any patient, overcoming problems of immune rejection usually associated with bone marrow transplants.

As there are not enough cells in a single cord to meet the needs of an adult patient, scientists have been looking for ways to either combine the cells from more than one baby, or to expand the cell numbers in the laboratory, the research published in the journal Nature Medicine found.