Liposuction leftovers easily converted to IPS stem cells

Human fat removed during liposuction conceal versatile cells that are more quickly and easily coaxed to become induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, than are the skin cells most often used by researchers.

“We’ve identified a great natural resource,” said Stanford surgery professor and co-author of the research, Michael Longaker, MD, who has called the readily available liposuction leftovers “liquid gold.”

Reprogramming adult cells to function like embryonic stem cells is one way researchers hope to create patient-specific cell lines to regenerate tissue or to study specific diseases in the laboratory.

“30 to 40 percent of adults in this country are obese,” agreed cardiologist Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, the paper’s senior author. “Not only can we start with a lot of cells, we can reprogram them much more efficiently. Fibroblasts, or skin cells, must be grown in the lab for three weeks or more before they can be reprogrammed. But these stem cells from fat are ready to go right away.”

The fact that the cells can also be converted without the need for mouse-derived “feeder cells” may make them an ideal starting material for human therapies. Feeder cells are often used when growing human skin cells outside the body, but physicians worry that cross-species contamination could make them unsuitable for human use.

The findings will be published online Sept. 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Longaker is the deputy director of Stanford’s Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute and director of children’s surgical research at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Wu is an assistant professor of cardiology and radiology, and a member of Stanford’s Cardiovascular Institute.

Source: Stanford University Medical Center, USA

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