Could fat from LIPOSUCTION be the key to repairing our bodies?

By: Benjamin Russell
Published: Thu, May 8, 2014

Biomaterial sponges filled with the fat could also be used to repair and regenerate structures such as blood vessels damaged by burns and other trauma, according to the University of Brighton and the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation (BMRF).

The foundation, based at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex, pioneers research into wound healing and reconstructive surgery.

Although the idea is still in its infancy, research has shown that fat cells, or adipose derived stem cells (ADSCs), can be turned into other cell types which could be used to help rebuild lost tissue, a university spokeswoman said.

The researchers at the university's Brighton Centre for Regenerative Medicine are hopeful the fat can ultimately be used to fill deep or extensive wounds, and to recover blood flow and promote peripheral nerve repair and sensation.

Professor Tony Metcalfe, who specialises in burns and wound healing research at the university, said: "We are interested to see if we can use them to help rebuild lost tissue and hopefully to start creating new blood vessels.

"But ADSCs can equally be turned into many other cell types dependent upon how and what you grow them in.

"We are excited by the prospects. Deep wounds currently are difficult to treat and to fill and create the original shape of the area wounded. Patients often never regain a proper blood supply or nerve sensation after skin grafts and other treatments."

Prof Metcalfe, director of research at BMRF, where the late surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe pioneered treatments for Second World War burns victims, continued: "We are investigating using the fat from liposuction procedures, which is donated with the consent of patients, to reconstitute material sponges that eventually can be used to fill soft tissue defects where the wound is quite deep or extensive.

"Procedures for treating deep flesh and skin wounds currently are limited, and while this new research is still in its infancy it does hold the prospect of development of much more beneficial treatments by 'recycling', if you like, fat that at the moment has no use and is disposed of."


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