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Stem Cells from Fat

September 28, 2009

Fat may be a productive source of stem cells.


Putting fat to work. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If there’s one thing America has plenty of, it’s body fat. Now, scientists may have found a positive use for it. Stanford University cardiologist Joseph Wu and his colleagues took discarded fat from plastic surgery, and isolated programmable, multi-purpose stem cells from it. He says that currently, the main source of non-embryonic stem cells is skin.

JOSEPH WU (Stanford University):
Usually we would have to grow these skin biopsy cells for about three to four weeks, to get enough cells to start the reprogramming process. (:08)

The fat cells got to this point in just two days. What’s more, the subsequent reprogramming took half as long, with a bigger payoff. Stanford’s doctors are already stockpiling fat for future lab studies. But Wu notes that in clinical settings, even slim patients would have enough spare fat to generate stem cells for themselves. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.