Liposuction leftovers could help save lives

Stem cells could come from fat, not human embryos or skin cells


The fat removed during liposuction can be used to form stem cells, US researchers have said.


Human fat includes some cells that can start the process of reprogramming to stem cells straight away. This is quite a big deal, seeing as skins cells – one of the most commonly used cell types to make stem cells – have to grow for three or four weeks in a laboratory, some times with the addition of mouse-derived cells, before the reprogramming process can start.

“We’ve identified a great natural resource,” Dr Michael Longaker, a surgery professor at Stanford’s School of Medicine and co-author of the research. He also has said the lipo leftovers are “liquid gold.”

Being able to reprogram adult cells to work like embryonic stem cells is one way patient-specific cell lines could be created to regenerate tissue, and could help researchers study certain diseases in the laboratory.

In talking about the findings, Dr Joseph Wu, a cardiologist and the study’s senior author, made a passing comment to the fact that with 30%-40% of American adults being obese, there were a lot of cells they could start with. However, perhaps even those of us who aren’t the usual lipo candidates would be happy to donate a few kilos to do our bit…


Would you consider being a fat donor, in the name of science?!

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