According to UCLA doctors, human fat may be the latest discovery in the search for where stem cells could be harvested.
In research published in the April issue of Tissue Engineering, doctors at both UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh were able to isolate stem cells from fat that had been collected by liposuction. The cells were then converted to either bone, cartilage or muscle.
“We don’t yet know the limits for stem cells found in fat,” wrote Adam J. Katz, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh in a statement. “So far, we have seen promising results with all of the tissue types we have examined.”
Katz also stated that the discovery could lead to eliminating the need to use fetal tissue for research, which has been opposed by anti-abortion groups.
“We hope one day to be able to remove diseased tissue or organs, harvest stem cells and replace the lost tissue on the same day during the same operation,” said Marc Hedrick, MD, of UCLA in a statement. “There is potential for regenerating a lot of different tissues, perhaps some day solid organs, glands, nerves or brain tissue.”
Michael T. Longaker, MD, of Stanford University said in an April 10 interview with the Los Angeles Times, “This is extremely significant in terms of potential.”
Longaker, who was not involved with the study, added, “Unfortunately, fat is a substantial natural resource in the United States. This is a great way to do something with it.”