Scientists closer to developing 'smart' stem cells made from human fat

Font Size:

Much controversy has surrounded stem cell research, and yet therapies and treatments involving stem cells have the capacity to treat a wide range of medical conditions.

Stem cell therapy could be used to treat physical trauma, degenerative conditions and genetic diseases, and could potentially be developed to repair extensive tissue damage.

However, such therapy has a shady past and is regarded in some quarters as a black sheep of the medical world.

This reputation may be due to ethical issues around past research involving the development and use of human embryos, most notably, embryonic stem cells. But not all stem cell research involves human embryos, and this latest advance in the field involves cells you already have in your body – and may extinguish the need for embryonic stem cells.

Induced multipotent stem cells (iMS) can be made from easily accessible human cells – in this case, fat – and reprogrammed to act as stem cells.

A new animal study using human cells shows that these adaptive stem cells can lie dormant until needed.

It’s a new type of stem cell, one with regenerative abilities, say University of NSW researchers.

The study, published online in Science Advances, shows encouraging results, but more research and tests are needed before any potential translation to human therapies.

“The stem cells we’ve developed can adapt to their surroundings and repair a range of damaged tissues,” says co-senior author Professor John Pimanda.

“To my knowledge, no one has made an adaptive human multipotent stem cell before. This is uncharted territory.”

The researchers exposed human fat cells to a compound mixture that caused them to lose their original identity.

They then injected the cells into mice where, at first, they stayed dormant, but were activated when a mouse had an injury, whereby the cells adapted to their surroundings and transformed into the tissue that needed repairing, be it muscle, bone, cartilage or blood vessels.

“The stem cells acted like chameleons,” says lead author Dr Avani Yeola.

“They followed local cues to blend into the tissue that required healing.”

There are existing technologies to transform cells into stem cells, but they have limitations, such as being limited in the range of tissues they can create and, when directly injected, can lead to tumours.

The new cells, being made from adult tissue, showed no sign of any unwanted tissue growth and they adapted to a range of tissue types.

“These stem cells are unlike any others currently under evaluation in clinical trials,” says Dr Yeola.

“They are made from a patient’s own cells, which reduces the risk of rejection.”

The researchers concede that there is much more research to be done to learn whether the cells are safe and successful for humans, but they are excited, nonetheless.

Should the studies prove successful, these cells could help mend anything from traumatic injuries to heart damage.

“This is one step further in the field of stem cell therapy,” says Dr Yeola.

The results are encouraging, but researchers say translation to human therapies is still a long way away. 

“Safety is our first and primary concern,” says Prof. Pimanda.

“Preclinical studies and clinical trials still need to be done, and we need to be sure we can generate these cells in a safe condition.

“Industry partners could bring expertise in production of clinical-grade iMS cells and design and conduct of clinical trials.

“This will help take this research to the next stage.”

Co-senior study author Dr Vashe Chandrakanthan says real-world delivery of this therapy could take up to 15 years.

“Successful medical research that achieves its final goal – that is, translating to routine clinical applicants and treatment – can often take many decades,” says Dr Chandrakanthan.

“There can be barriers, setbacks and failed experiments. It’s the nature of research.

“While these findings are very exciting, I will keep a lid on my excitement until we get this through to patients.”

Are you excited about this medical advance?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

Join
By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

RELATED LINKS

Study forces rethink on older adults growing new brain cells

Older men and women can generate just as many new brain cells as younger people.

Regenerate your immune system

Fasting for just three days could be enough to regenerate your entire immune system.

Scientists may have discovered how to reverse inflammation and ageing

New finding could halt or reverse age-related conditions like Alzheimer's.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

Contact:
LinkedIn
Email

0 Comments

Total Comments: 0

    FACEBOOK COMMENTS



    SPONSORED LINKS

    continue reading

    Lifestyle

    How to know when it's time to break up with your mattress

    Knowing when to replace your mattress isn't an exact science but there are some key indicators that it's time to...

    Pets

    How to grieve the loss of a pet

    Losing a pet is never easy. Whether they have been ill for a long time or it's a sudden death,...

    Health news

    Could your phone help to prevent blindness and glaucoma?

    Usually, we think of smartphones and the blue light that they emit as causing damage to our eye, but what...

    Stylewatch

    The most stylish athletes in sport

    Cementing her status as a rising fashion icon, tennis star Naomi Osaka has been unveiled as the new face of...

    COVID-19

    Do you need to register for a COVID vaccine? When is it your turn?

    Natasha Yates, Bond University Australia is now more than a week into rolling out the Pfizer vaccine, while AstraZeneca shots...

    Seniors Finance

    How financially comfortable are Australia's retirees?

    The financial comfort of Australian households has reached a record high, despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with...

    Health news

    Monash research finds heart drug can reduce breast cancer progression

    Good news. That is what's required in the fight against cancer, especially since estimates show that more than 2500 cancer...

    Finance

    New reporting rules mean financial hardship must stay on credit report

    Consumers will have private financial hardship information exposed on their credit reports for the first time as a result of...

    LOADING MORE ARTICLE...