According to Australian researchers, fat cells can be converted into stem cells can repair any damaged tissues. They appear to have figured out how to reprogram adult bone or fat cells to form stem cells that could potentially regenerate any damaged tissue in the body.
The researchers were inspired by the way salamanders are able to replace lost limbs, and regenerate multiple cell types – in what is known as multipotency. That means the new stem cells can hypothetically repair any injury in the body, from severed spinal cords to joint and muscle degeneration. This is significant because we haven’t yet found a way to make adult stem cells naturally regenerate different tissue types.
“This technique is a significant advance on many of the current unproven stem cell therapies, which have shown little or no objective evidence they contribute directly to new tissue formation,” said lead researcher John Pimanda from the University of New South Wales, Faculty of Medicine (UNSW Medicine). “We are currently assessing whether adult human fat cells reprogrammed into [induced multipotent stem cells (iMS cells)] can safely repair damaged tissue in mice, with human trials expected to begin in late 2017.”