Headline news, onámy talkáradio station onáFriday morning, was that scientists had manged to use stem cells from adipose (belly fat) tissue obtained from people during tummy-tucks, for some sort of biomedical/regenerative medicine purpose. I'm not sure just why this was newsworthy. I admit I missed the main "just" of the story, as I was driving, but a very quick search online revealed a plethera of research reports dating back to at least 2002, covering the subject. In 2002, Zuk et al. reported that adipose tissue contains a type of multipotent cells called processed lipoaspirate (PLA) cells. (Multipotent is not to be confused with pluripotent - multipotent cells can differentiate into a limited number of different types of cell line).
Earlier this year, Peran et al., a team from Spain, reported using extract from cardiac muscle cells to differentiate adipose stem cells to cardiac tissue. A team at the University of Texas has also reportedácreation of functional cardiac cells, exhibiting rhythmic contraction, from adiposeástem cells. Theáresearchers used green and redáprobes as biomarkers to track the fate ofáthe stem cells as they fused with rat cardiomyocytes and took on cardiomyocyte-like properties (Metzele et al., 2010).áOn November 18th, ClinicalTrials.gov posted a call for people to participate in a clinical study, to investigate the use of adipose stem cells to treat Multiple Sclerosis. This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what published research is out there, so this is not NEW news, but it what it is, is a sign that progress is being made, both in treatment of diseases that affect millions of people, and in addressing the ethics of embryonic stem cells, by finding other viable solutions/sources.
Zuk, P. et al. 2002. Human adipose tissue is a source of multipotent stem cells. Molecular Biology of the Cell 13:4279-4295.
Perßn, M. et al.á2010. Human cardiac tissue induces transdifferentiation of adult stem cells towards cardiomyocytes. Cytotherapy. 12(3):332 doi:10.3109/14653240903548202.
Metzele, R. et al. 2010. Human adipose tissue-derived stem cells exhibit proliferation potential and spontaneous rhythmic contraction after fusion with neonatal rat cardiomyocytes. The FASEB Journal. Published onlineáNovember 8, 2010.ádoi:10.1096/fj.09-153221.