Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found adult stem cells collected from human fat have a potential use to treat aging. Their findings are published in the journal, Stem Cells. The posh name for fat is adipose (worth keeping in mind if you want to bewilder a loved one by asking them if your bottom looks adipose in these pants). Anyway, adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs), create more proteins than researchers initially thought — even when harvested from the elderly.

“Our study shows these cells are very robust, even when they are collected from older patients,” said Ivona Percec, M.D., director of Basic Science Research in the Center for Human Appearance and the study’s lead author. “It also shows these cells can be potentially used safely in the future because they require minimal manipulation and maintenance.” Now, notice Dr. Percec uses the word “safely.” This is also a useful development, because we have never really known whether administering stem cells as anti-agers was really a safe thing to do.

Interestingly, adipose stem cells behave differently to other stem cells — such as fibroblasts from the skin — in that they are more stable over time and the rate at which they multiply stays consistent even as we age.  I found some research from 2013 that speculated that these cells may be the same in infants through to the elderly. Dr. Perec’s research seems to have clinched that this is indeed the case.

When you harvest adipose derived stem cells, they can become virtually any type of cell and put to the service of anti-aging, as well as healing purposes. Recent research has shown that they are a powerful source of skin regeneration because of their capability to provide not just cells but also tons of cytokines, or growth factors. The result, as one research paper puts it, is “great promise for applications in repair of skin, rejuvenation of aging skin and aging-related skin lesions.”