Dr Stig-Frederik Trojahn Koelle, from Copenhagen University
Hospital, one of the authors of the research, published in the Lancet, says the
results 'suggest that stem-cell enriched fat grafting might prove to be an
attractive alternative to major tissue augmentation, such as breast
reconstruction after cancer [...], with fewer side effects and more satisfying
technique builds on the more established method of 'lipofilling', where a
patient's own fat is removed using liposuction and then transplanted to
increase the volume in fat in another area of the body.
Koelle told US News, lipofilling can be 'unpredictable, and you
often have to repeat the procedure to get a [satisfactory] result'. One major
problem is 'resorption', where transferred fat does not survive for very long
after the operation. Up to 80 percent of transferred material can be lost in
Koelle and his team tested the new technique in ten healthy
volunteers. Following liposuction to collect fat
tissue, two fat grafts were prepared for each participant to be injected into
the upper arm. One fat graft was enriched with their own stem cells and the
After 121 days, stem cell enriched grafts retained over 80 percent
of their initial volume, compared to 16.3 percent for the non-enriched grafts.
Higher amounts of newly formed connective tissue and lower rates of tissue
death were also observed in the stem cell grafts.
J Peter Rubin, chair of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center, and a co-author of an editorial accompanying the study, told US
News that the results were a 'proof of principle' and would need to be followed
up with more substantial trials.
He added that successful animal studies using the
technique had already been carried out. 'What's been missing is good data on
humans', he said.