Expanding waistlines, unsightly bulges: people will gladly remove excess body fat to improve their looks. But unwanted fat also contains stem cells with the potential to repair defects and heal injuries in the body. A team led by Philippe Collas at the University of Oslo in Norway has identified certain chemical marks that allow him to predict which, among the hundreds of millions of stem cells in liposuctioned fat, are best at regenerating tissue.
Uncovering the nature and location of these molecular tags could allow scientists to pull off the ultimate trick of taking a patient’s own fat cells and using them for therapy, Collas told researchers gathered at the EuroSTELLS Workshop ‘Exploring Chromatin in Stem Cells’ held on January 23-24, in Montpellier, France.
“Fat tissue is an underappreciated source of stem cells,” Collas pointed out. Unlike other sources of adult stem cells, such as bone marrow, fat is abundant and there is no shortage of donors. “It’s wonderful, we have litres and litres of material from cosmetic surgery clinics and end up with bucketfuls of stem cells to work with,” he notes.