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Stem cells from fatty tissue – instead of marrow


Contemporary medicine uses stem cells to regenerate serious damage to bone, cartilage, skin, muscle tissue and nerves. It is traditionally believed that the major source of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) for cell and tissue medicine lies in bone marrow, but Russian scientists, specialists from the Stem Cell Institute, have managed to extract MSC from subcutaneous fat.

Three patients took part in this experiment. Under local anaesthetic a cosmetic operation was conducted on them. To obtain the MSC culture “cuttings” from the operations were taken from the lower eyelid and from fatty tissue near the navel. The subcutaneous fat was washed thoroughly, freed of collagen and the cells were cultivated in a nutritive medium for MSC. In three weeks all the cells had actively divided and on the outside they resembled fibroblasts – elongated cells of connective tissue. Furthermore they had the ability to differentiate into different tissues: bone, cartilage and even nerve tissue.

Fatty tissue, removed during the operation, is of no use to anyone and, therefore, if the donor is healthy, there are no obstacles for it to be used in experiments and clinical practice. At the same time, finding another human who is willing to give up a part of their marrow is not an easy task. Therefore, believe the scientists, this source of stem cells opens new prospects in cell and tissue engineering and in regenerative medicine.