A Japanese medical research team under the direction of Dr. Bin Nakayama, associate professor at Tottori University, has successfully employed stem cells mixed with patients' own fat to help regenerate up to 90 percent of tissue removed during breast cancer surgery. The promising procedure involves removing fat from patients' abdomens or hips and combining it with their own fat stem cells; then implanting the mixture into areas of the breast where cancerous tumors and tissues were removed during surgery.
The inclusion of stem cells is the critical factor: transplanting fat alone has been attempted before but up to 70 percent is eventually reabsorbed by the body because there are no blood vessels to provide nutrients to the fat cells. When stem cells were included in the transplanted material, they were able to prompt the growth of new blood vessels and as a result, from 70 to 90 percent of the transplanted fat remained in its new location.
The procedure's cosmetic potential is only one side of the coin, of course, as the priority has always been to treat breast cancer so that patients can enjoy longer lives. With that in mind, the research team conducted clinical trials on five women between the ages of 30 and 60 who underwent the new breast-conserving surgery. After one year of being monitored for any recurrence and/or metastasizing of their breast cancer, all five of the women were found to be free of any cancer.
If eventually adopted as a standard treatment protocol, the procedure could significantly affect the number of radical mastectomies performed and post-surgery prostheses required. (via The Japan Times)