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article imageScientists turn fat into stem cells

By Wang Fangqing     Sep 9, 2009 in Science
There has been a lot of controversy over producing stem cells from human embryos. Now, after skin cells have become an optional source, scientists from Stanford University are demonstrating another convenient, fast way to get stem cells: our fat.
If you are going to have liposuction surgery, it looks as though your gross leftovers may save your life some day, as scientists have turned human fat into induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS, reports the National Geographic.
Here is how it works: Some Trojan horse-like viruses were injected into muscle cells found in fat that surrounds blood vessels, then viruses introduced genes which reprogrammed the cells, pushing them to grow into new forms.
It's certainly something encouraging for patients, especially those who need new organs.
Michael Longake, co-author of a paper on this subject, and Stanford University plastic surgeon, said tissues and organs grown from their own stem cells are much less likely to be rejected by the body.
People don't even have to worry about the lack of supply as human fat is "an abundant natural resource and a renewable one," he said. His patients donated the fat for the study.
The fat technology is about twice as fast as the skin technology, which was introduced in 2005, and 20 times more efficient, said Joseph Wu, a cell expert from Standford and the study's senior author.
"We can get iPS-like colonies, basically, in about 16 days, compared to 28 days to 32 days using [skin]," he said.
More about Fat, Stem, Cell, Stanford, Embryo
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