Members of the International Fat Applied Technology Society (IFATS) met in Baton Rouge, La, October 21 to 24 to trade techniques and research findings to improve the use of human fat tissue in medical therapies such as facial, breast, bone, vocal cord, and other tissue reconstruction. The researchers hope that their findings will improve plastic surgery, surgical repair of damaged or diseased tissue, and genetically identical tissue replacement.

“We now know fat is much more than just those extra pounds we carry around,” says Jeffrey Gimble, MD, of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, and current president of IFATS. “It’s a dynamic tissue that holds secrets to treating disease. Unlocking the potential of stem cells found in fat tissue is just the beginning.”

Fat tissue, like bone marrow and umbilical cords, contains hundreds of thousands of adult stem cells that are naturally programmed to heal and repair the human body. Researchers have induced these fat-derived adult stem cells to convert to fat, bone, cartilage, and muscle.

At the meeting, researchers explored the use of fat injection into damaged soft-tissue, blending stem cells into fat before injection, and converting fat stem cells to bone. They also learned  from their colleagues about the amplifying effects of a human virus on fat formation. The researchers believe these cells could help treat heart conditions, heal broken bones, and even be used in reconstructive surgery.

[newswise.com, October 22, 2006]