An article in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association provides a global perspective on adult stem cell transplants. In particular, the researchers wanted to know how many transplants were taking place in different parts of the world. This particular study looked only at hematopoietic stem cell transplants, i.e., transplants of blood-forming cells, obtained from bone marrow, peripheral blood, and umbilical cord blood; it did not survey uses of other adult stem cell types, such as mesenchymal, adipose-derived, or nasal adult stem cells. Their survey found that worldwide in 2006 a total of 50,417 transplants were performed using these adult stem cells. Of that total, 57% used the patient’s own adult stem cells, and 43% used donor adult stem cells. Almost half (48%) took place in Europe, followed by the Americas (36%), Asia (14%), and the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa (2%). They note that adult stem cell transplants have become “the standard of care for many patients” with blood disorders and malignancies, though they are starting to be used for other conditions including autoimmune disorders and heart disease. They also note that their study “demonstrates that it is an accepted therapy worldwide”.

Adult stem cells are saving lives and improving health now.