Life Lines

Building bones from fat

Drs. Chia Soo and Bruno Péault, from the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, have found a way to turn stem cells from fat tissue into bone of higher quality than that grown with prior techniques.

The mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from the fat tissue may develop into bone, cartilage, muscle as well as other tissues. More importantly, fat tissue is easily accessible through liposuction.

What is unique about their research is that they were able to purify stem cells from fat tissue relatively quickly. Until now, the isolated cells were a mixed bag including some not capable of forming bone or it took weeks for researchers to isolate specific stem cells and grow them in a culture, which increased the risk of infection and genetic variability. Adding the growth factor NELL-1 to the mix helped Drs. Soo and Péault accelerate bone formation in animal models. The hope is that this new technique may replace the need for painful bone grafts and allow patients to quickly grow bones from their own cells.

Source: UCLA Press Release