Leftover Fat From Lipos Is 'Liquid Gold' for Stem Cells

Siphoned off fat better than skin for producing embyo-free stem cells
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2009 3:42 PM CDT

(Newser) – Blubber may be the next big thing in stem cell research. Stanford scientists have found that leftover liposuction fat contains cells that can be changed into induced pluripotent stem cells—a type that doesn't require the use of an embryo, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Until now, scientists have typically used skin for the job. But the fat is easier to reprogram, they say. One study co-author called it “liquid gold.”

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“Skin cells must be grown in the lab for three weeks or more before they can be reprogrammed,” explained the study’s senior author. “But these stem cells from fat are ready to go right away.” Besides, he notes, the stuff should be plentiful: “30-40% of the adults in this country are obese.” (Read more liposuction stories.)

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