Liposuction Fat Turns to Stem Cells Quicker Than Skin in Study
By Rob Waters
Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) — Human fat, widely available and easily harvested with liposuction, morphed into stem cells more efficiently than skin cells in a study, giving scientists an alternative to the use of embryonic cells.
Three years ago, Shinya Yamanaka, of Kyoto University in Japan, showed that skin cells could be genetically manipulated to become any other cell type, much like embryonic stem cells. This process was hailed as avoiding the destruction of embryos and letting scientists create new therapies by making stem cells from patients who are ill.
Since then, researchers have sought to overcome two drawbacks to Yamanaka’s method. One is that the viruses and genes used to reprogram skin cells can trigger tumor growth. The second is that the process is inefficient, with less than 1 percent of skin cells becoming all-purpose cells. The new research, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may solve the second problem.