According to researchers, the fat cells removed through tummy tucking surgeries can be used to treat heart problems, joint cartilages and develop replacement parts for ligaments in humans. A group of US researchers is planning to conduct a human clinical trial to test the efficacy of fat derived stem cells based on their previous success with animal models.
Usually, doctors say that loose and unhealthy fat stored around the hips and tummy may cause various health problems in adults and kids. However, some researchers believe that these fats removed through liposuction and tummy tuck surgeries can be put to good use such as repairing the hip, shoulder and knees. Around the world, scientists are studying the effects of stem cells present in the adipose tissue to treat various health ailments. European scientists are working on their research to turn adipose stem cells into cardiac cells which can be utilized for the treatment of heart diseases in patients. Some trials using these adult stem cell transplants showed good progress in reducing the size of the injuries.
Recently, researchers at the University of Pittsburg have initiated a human clinical trial to study the efficacy and safety of stem cells derived from adipose tissue (fat under the skin) for cartilage repair caused by osteoarthritis and growth of ligaments and tendons required for knee surgeries and other injury treatment. This created hope among the scientists to conduct studies on fat-derived stem cells.
The adult stem cells are easily isolated from the adipose tissue through liposuction. Doctors remove a chunk of additional fat from the tummy and hip regions which are then processed in the lab to extract the stem cells. These stem cells are then injected into the site of the injured tissue to heal and repair the damage. Here, the risk of rejection is very low as the stem cells are autologous (taken from the patient). Doctors believe that although stem cell therapy shows positive results, it will take several years to become a standardized treatment option in hospitals.
Currently, umbilical cord and bone marrow stem cell therapies are used in hospitals to treat severe forms of cancer like leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, blood related disorders, sports injuries etc. With further research and safe clinical trials, adipose tissue stem cells may find application in the treatment of heart conditions, regeneration of cartilage & tendons and much more in the future.