Many people are concerned about the amount of fat on their body. People feel they have too much or not enough and will go through body altering surgeries to take care of their insecurities. However, a recent study conducted by scientist in Germany suggest that adipose fat cells might be more beneficial than we think. There is a way to take the fat removed from patients undergoing surgery and use these cells in research. These cells are called stem cells, which are cells that can become almost any cell in the body. They are beneficial to the field of regenerative medicine, which is where scientists use stem cells to replace damaged tissue or organs and to treat diseases.
To assess how beneficial fat tissue can be, Sandra Schneider, Megan Unger, Martijn van Griensven, and Elizabeth R. Balmayor conducted a study in 2016 in Germany. They worked with the International Graduate School of Science and Engineering at the Technical University of Munich in order to conduct research on the topic. Their findings were published in 2017 in the European Journal of Medicine.
Stem cells have been collected through many different methods, such as from embryos, bone marrow, and some other types of tissues. They are found all throughout the body and they are very important in the development of the human body. Stem cells have the ability to differentiate which makes them useful. Differentiation is where stem cells, which have not been specialized to a specific function, mature to become distinct body cells throughout the body. This means a stem cell has the ability to become almost any tissue, such as liver cells, blood cells, or muscle cells. Stem cells has allowed the field of regenerative medicine to become a possibility. Regenerative medicine is a growing field that aims to repair or replace injured tissues, as well as aiming to treat diseases at their source (Kariminekoo 2016, p. 750). This study aims to display how adipose stem cells, collected by liposuction and resected fact, are as effective for research and therapies as other types of stem cells. This study demonstrates how to obtain the fat cells, how to isolate the stem cells, and a few ways the cells were manipulated in order to prove their potential for stem cell research. The research verified that cells from liquid fat tissue grew faster than cells from solid fat tissue, and it is therefore good to use for regenerative medicine therapies.
The study collected adipose tissue from human patients between the ages of thirty and seventy-eight years of age, who were undergoing liposuction or resection surgery to remove fat. During the surgeries, solid adipose tissue was collected and cut up into small pieces to be experimented with. All other cells, like blood, were removed from the sample through a process called centrifugation, which is where the solution is spun in order to separate out the particles. After the centrifugation, the sample was incubated, kept at thirty-seven degrees Celsius, and inverted several times every ten minutes to distribute the fat cells evenly in the mixture. The adipose tissue needs to soak in a solution for thirty to forty minutes, no longer than an hour, to ensure there is no harm done to the stem cells. The fat cells were then put through a process that caused them to expand, which increased their surface area, making them more suitable for further experimentation. They were then frozen to ensure they did not lose their stem cell properties and they are thawed as needed for later experiments. Cells were characterized based on their stem cell properties and a testing of the cells was performed to determine the metabolic activity of the cells. Their growth potential was compared between solid and liquid fat tissue (Schneider 2107). A similar study was conducted by researchers in China; however, they did their research on mice. They were able to conclude the same results as the researcher in the study on humans (Han et. al. 2019). The studies conducted concluded that taking stem cells from adipose fat tissue is just as effective as retrieving stem cells in other ways.
While this study can be very beneficial to the field of regenerative medicine, there are a few limitations. Fat tissue samples were not collected from all over the body, only from the abdomen and hip areas. The authors admit that taking tissue from different areas of the body may result in different markers being expressed, meaning the capability of stem cells to differentiate into other cells may be hindered. This could result in certain areas of the body potentially being more beneficial for retrieving stem cells than the cells taken from the abdomen and hip areas. Without these other areas being researched, there is still solid data that ensures stem cells can be taken from adipose fat tissue and that these stem cells can be used in regenerative medicine research. The researchers also admit that the procedure used to retrieve the tissue could possibly have an effect on the number of cells that are collected. The way the cells are isolated could also have an effect on the cells harvested, meaning there could be a more effective way to separate the stem cells from the connective tissue and from the other types of tissues. Even with the limitations, the data collected by both studies mirror each other and have similar results, indicating that the limitations do not have a great effect on the outcome of the research that was conducted.
This study supports the notion that adipose stem cells will be effective for regenerative medicine and will further the science of regenerative medicine. With this method of retrieving stem cells, the patient is already receiving the surgery and the tissue that is removed is being used for other types of research. Any other time the fat taken off would be thrown away as medical waste or there would need to be a separate procedure in order to harvest stem cells. The information concluded from the study will help further the field of regenerative medicine because it is a form of retrieving stem cells that does not pose the same ethical problems as other forms of retrieving stem cells for research.
In a journal published in 2016, Kariminekoo and a team of scientist explored the uses of stem cells for regenerative medicine. A few applications are treating cardiac disease (heart-failure), damaged liver and kidneys, bone disorders, and possibly a treatment for the progression of diabetes (Kariminekoo 2016, p. 749-751). Stem cells and regenerative medicine aim to treat a variety of disorders and diseases, such as cancer, which could potentially change the lives of many people in the United States and throughout the rest of the world. Stem cells taken from adipose tissue can help further the field of regenerative medicine.
Han Y, Li x, Zhang Y, Han Y, Chang F, Ding J. 2019. Mesenchymal stem cells for regenerative medicine. Cells. 8(886):1-19. https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4409/8/8/886/htm. doi: 10.3390/cells8080886.
Kariminekoo S, Mocassaghpour A, Rahimzadeh A, Talebi M, Shamsasenjan K, Akbarzadeh A. 2016. Implications of mesenchymal stem cells in regenerative medicine. Artificial Cells, Nanomedicine, and Biotechnology. 44(3):749-757. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.3109/21691401.2015.1129620?needAccess=true. doi: 10.3109/21691401.2015.1129620.
Schneider S, Unger M, van Griensven M, Balmayor E. 2017. Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells from liposuction and resected fat are feasible sources for regenerative medicine. European Journal of Medical Research. 22(17):1-11. https://eurjmedres.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s40001-017-0258-9. doi: 10.1186/s40001-017-0258-9.
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