The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
Artificial fertilizer was a by-product of the effort to wage deadlier warfare, and sex drives early adoption of new media technologies, so I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that the killer app that finally brings stem cell therapy into the mainstream might be, as one Australian news service so delicately put it: "Lunch break boob jobs."Using fat from the patient's own body to rebuild other areas is not a novel idea, but such reconstructions often fail as the fat is simply reabsorbed.However using fat-derived stem cells appears to overcome this problem, according to the company behind the procedure, Cytori Therapeutics.Quoth the BBC.UPDATE:A PR rep for Cytori Therapeutics, the company behind this technology, just contacted us with the information that (surprise surprise!) the original news items on this technology were a bit, shall we say, sensationalized? From their letter......while the company is excited about the potential of its Celution system to advance the role of fat tissue-based regenerative therapy, the July 9, 2007 Chemical & Industry article upon which the BBC and related stories were based unfortunately made several errors and sensationalized the medical research the company is conducting. In fact, Chemical & Industry is planning to correct these inaccuracies with a detailed profile in its next issue. Cytori Therapeutics is focused first and foremost on applying fat tissue-derived cells and its Celution System toward reconstruction of breast tissue lost as a result of tumor resection in breast cancer patients. This is a serious medical need for which today there are few if any available options. The company is working as fast as it can in hopes of making the application in breast reconstruction available to cancer patients in Europe in 2009. Contrary to the story, Cytori Therapeutics is not focused on cosmetic augmentation nor is this application approved for use in Germany.(Luckily, the rest of the original post, which continues below, is still accurate, as far as I can tell.)Given the rate at which women with breast cancer endure mastectomies, this therapy has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions (if they can afford it, that is--the therapy costs a few thousand dollars per cartridge of purified stem cells).But wait there's more! The company developing this technology--Cytori Therapeurics--also has plans to use the stem cells derived from adipose (fat) tissue to treat heart disease.From Cytori's own site:Adipose-derived regenerative cells may be ideally suited for treatment of heart attacks, an acute condition, and coronary artery disease, a chronic condition.Acute and chronic heart conditions are caused by the destruction of heart muscle cells due to insufficient blood supply as a result of artery blockages. Following a heart attack, a significant area of heart muscle surrounding the infarct is alive but at risk of dying. This is called the perfusion defect and is the target of Cytori's investigational regenerative cell therapy.Preclinical data suggest that adipose-derived regenerative cells improve heart function through several cellular mechanisms aimed at reducing the size of the perfusion defect.It's also worth noting that these are adult stem cells, taken from a patient's own body, so I can't imagine any interest groups taking an exception to this technology.Thanks, BuzzFeed!