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Published: 2024-02-19

Stem cells from fat can give new breast to women after cancer

NEWS Transplantation of stem cells from adipose tissue allows for the regeneration of a new breast without the need for silicone implants or major surgery after breast cancer removal. These are the results of a dissertation at Umeå University.

Adipose tissue contains stem cells that can be transformed into new fat cells and increase vascular growth in the area, which is important if the fat graft is to survive. Stem cells can also help repair damaged tissue, for example after radiation or accidents.
"We have developed a special stem cell, which we assume is better than other stem cells precisely because of this," says the author of the thesis, Anne Therese Lauvrud.
When culturing these cells in the laboratory, it is important that the cells are allowed to grow in culture medium that does not contain animal products, as this can infect humans with bacteria and viruses, and in some cases cause allergic reactions.


"That's why we've also looked at different culture media that can be used on humans prior to a stem cell transplant. We obtain the stem cells by liposuction of patients who have needed it and then retrieve their stem cells."
The studies also include an investigation of two different liposuction methods, where one method seems better for the survival of the stem cells than the traditional method. Part of the work was to map that the stem cells do not affect the body, so that a new cancer arises or awakens "sleeping" cancer cells.

No increased risk for relapse

Stem cells that have a surface marker, CD 146, so-called pericytes, were found to be much more potent to grow, create new vessels and transform themselves into new fat cells, than all the other stem cells. A liposuction method, so-called waterjet, had a higher proportion of pericytes in the fat and was again found to be better in terms of growth, neovascularization and conversion into new fat cells.
"We tested several culture media free from animal blood products, and one medium, which we call xenofree, was significantly better for the stem cells. They grew rapidly, triggered neovascularization and transformed into new fat cells to a much greater extent than the other media we tested. We also did not see that the stem cells increased the risk of cancer recurrence, but the stem cells influenced breast cancer cells to secrete a protein, which is considered dangerous in a cancer disease," says Anne Therese Lauvrud.

No new form of cancer

"We have developed a good stem cell that can be transplanted into humans to recreate a soft tissue defect after cancer, for example. These cells must be grown in the laboratory in order to obtain more cells for a transplant.
The xeno-free medium seems to be a good agent for culturing these cells, and it is possible to transplant these cells into humans without the risk of disease. Before transplantation, it is important that the procedures are standardized and that the methods are the same.
"Waterjet liposuction seems to be an optimal method of raising fat with good quality stem cells. It also seems reassuring that these stem cells do not regenerate a new form of cancer," says Anne Therese Lauvrud.

Anne Therese Lauvrud was born and raised in Norway. She moved to Umeå to study to become a doctor, fell in love and stayed. Anne Therese is a trained plastic surgeon and works a lot with post-cancer reconstruction, including fat transplants for breasts after breast cancer. She started her doctoral studies 10 years ago, as she wants to optimize the survival of transplanted fat.

On Friday 23 February, Anne Therese Lauvrud, Department of Medical and Translational Biology & Department of Diagnostics and Intervention at Umeå University, defends her thesis entitled Optimizing Stem Cells for Reconstructive Surgery. The dissertation takes place at 09:00 in lecture hall N410, Natural Sciences Building, Umeå University. Opponent is Associate Professor Susanna Kauhanen, Uppsala and Helsinki University Hospitals.

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