Who would have ever imagined that our fat could one day save our life or fix our medical problems? Don’t most people dream of getting rid of their excess fat? Before you get rid of that precious fat, you might want to learn about use of fat derived stem cells in Regenerative Medicine.
Adipose tissue (fat) is an abundant and rich source of adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells, which can be used for stem cell therapy. In fact, some scientific studies claim that fat has 1,000 times higher concentration of stem cells, than bone marrow! Besides, in most people fat is more abundant and easier to harvest than bone marrow!
Anatomy of Adipose Tissue
Fat is mainly composed of lobules of mature adipocytes (fat cells) placed in a matrix of supportive blood vessels, connective tissue, and Adipose-Derived Stem Cells. As shown in the attached diagram, the plastic surgeon removes fat from different body areas by a liposuction machine. This lipoaspirate contains pericytes, adipocytes, Adipose Derived Stem Cells, Pre-Adipocytes, Endothelial and Progenitor cells, as well as Hematopoietic cells. In a sterile complex fashion which is described in detail elsewhere, fat and oil is separated discarded, thus leaving only the non-fat cellular component. This cell mixture is called the Stromal Vascular Fracture (SVF), can be either used directly for tissue repair or further processed to separate specific type of Adipose Derived Stem Cells, or even be propagated and stored for future use.
Advantage of use of Fat Stem Cells
- Abundance in numbers and concentration when compared to bone marrow and fetal tissue.
- No need to obtain fetal or amniotic stem cell tissue.
- Ease of harvest by liposuction, instead of painful bone marrow harvest.
- Safe to transplant to self, with no need to requiring donor transplantation from someone else, with no worries for disease transmission or immune rejection.
- Ease of processing and autografting within a short period of time.
- Ability to be propagated and stored for future use.
Adipose Derived Stem Cell Harvest
- After giving patients sedatives and making them comfortable, a small amount of fat is harvested by liposuction at our Certified Surgery Center under local anesthesia with minimum or no discomfort.
- Using an FDA approved closed sterile system the lipoaspirate is filtered and then incubated with enzymes which separate the stem cells from the fat cell.
- In a sterile centrifuge the Stromal Vascular Fracture containing the stem cells is separated from the fat and grease.
- SVF is further washed and filtered and the viability and concentration of the stem cells checked under a microscope.
- Adipose Derived Stem Cells are then injected into the tissue that needs to be repaired.
- If necessary or portion of the stem cells is saved for in vitro expansion and future use.
- Patient goes home within a few hours of arriving to the surgery center.
Cell-based Therapeutic Applications of Adipose Derived Stem Cells
- Musculoskeletal Repair & Regeneration- stem cells derived from fat are injected into joints, tendons, fracture sites, or muscle in order to regenerate damaged tissue such as cartilage, bone, tendon or muscle. ASC is either injected by itself or along with Platelet Rich Plasma growth factors which potentiates their effect.
- Ischemic Heart Disease- Stem cells injected into or near damaged heart tissue has shown to cause formation of new feeding blood vessels and regeneration of muscle.
- Spine Disease- stem cells are injected into damaged spinal discs and or near damaged spinal cord to help heal nerves and spinal structures.
- Soft tissue Regeneration & Wound Healing- Stem cells injected into radiation damaged soft tissue have shown significant healing and normalization of the soft tissue. It is being tried in the treatment of non-healing diabetic or ischemic ulcers and wounds.
- Cosmetic Surgery- plastic surgeons for many years have used fat grafting for the augmentation of the breasts, buttocks, the aging face, and other areas. Addition of ASC to the grafted fat increases its viability and longevity.
- Diabetes- research is being conducted with the goal of regenerating pancreatic islet cells that can produce insulin for diabetic patients.
- Liver failure- research is being conducted with the goal of regenerating Liver Hepatocytes to treat patients with liver failure, instead of doing liver transplantation.
- Brain Diseases- There is ongoing and promising research on the use of ASC for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and brain strokes.
- Cancer Treatment- Stem cells are used to deliver cancer drugs into the cancer with minimal systemic side effects.
- Auto-immune disease- such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, and others are being considered for treatment by stem cells.
- Many more potential applications are to be found.