Stem cells may allow mastectomy patients to regrow breasts

Via the Telegraph:

It is hoped that if successful, the experimental stem cell breast-growing technique – called Neopec – could replace breast reconstructions and implants within three years.

Dr Phillip Marzella from the Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery in Melbourne, said a prototype trial of five to six women would start in the next three to six months “to demonstrate that the body can regrow its own fat supply in the breast”.

Prof Wayne Morrison, a Bernard O’Brien director, said using the stem cells from the patient’s own fat to regenerate body parts was a huge advancement on current techniques, which try to repair or cover-up damage.

The regrowth process involves surgeons implanting a biodegradable synthetic breast-shaped chamber beneath the skin. They then connect a blood vessel from the woman’s underarm to the fat tissue allowing it to grow to fill the chamber within six to eight months.The fat tissue stops growing when it reaches the chamber walls to ensure the desired shape and size.

The technique has already been proved in pigs, which grew new breasts in just six weeks. Dr Marzella said the process could take longer in women because humans stop growing at adolescence. However, his team has already developed a dissolvable gel to stimulates fat growth in the chamber and speed up the formation of the new breast.

Dr Marzella said the technique could also be used to regrow other organs.

“We are hoping to move on to other organs using the same principle – a chamber that protects and contains cells as they grow and they restore their normal function.


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