Undifferentiated cells present in adult organs and tissues are generally multipotent, which means that they are capable of giving birth to different cell lines from a given piece of tissue. They form the basis of the natural renewal of a tissue and its repair following the occurrence of a lesion. Placenta and umbilical cord blood cells already offer therapies, as emphasized in the report by the parliamentary information mission for reviewing bioethics laws in France (January 20, 2010): “Certain adult stem cells have proven their therapeutic potential over more than thirty years. Thus, therapies that make use of hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow or peripheral blood provide benefits to over 3,000 patients every year who are treated for malign blood diseases, for solid tumors, or in order to counter the effects of chemotherapy on bone marrow”.
Today, there are over 3,500 programs and clinical trials around the world that are using adult stem cells. For example, with a view to overcoming the blood products supply shortage, Prof. Luc Douay, the head of the Biological Hematology and Immunology Department at the Hôpital Saint Antoine (Paris), uses umbilical cord stem cells in order to make red blood cells and transfuse them into the blood. In the United States alone, the adult stem cells market is estimated to be worth 88 billion dollars. A study published on November 14, 2011 in The Lancet and previewed at a conference of the American Cardiology Association, reported the spectacular results achieved by teams from the University of Louisville and Harvard Medical School in providing treatment for people suffering from heart failure (following an infarction), based on cardiac stem cells. Taken from patients who had undergone a coronary bypass and then cultivated and differentiated in vitro, the cells were reinjected 4 months after the infarction using a simple catheter. Thanks to this personalized regenerative medicine, each patient receives his or her own cells, with no risk of the body rejecting them.