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CST Web Exclusive: Reproduced cell lines show promise for future autologous plastic surgery procedures

Article-CST Web Exclusive: Reproduced cell lines show promise for future autologous plastic surgery procedures

Shape shift
Reproduced cell lines show promise for future autologous plastic surgery procedures

Ilya Petrou, M.D.
Senior Staff Correspondent

Oslo, Norway — Using the body’s own cells to heal, regenerate and even sculpt the same body’s tissues may seem an impossibility and a dream scenario for physicians and patients alike. However, recent research has come very much closer to making the impossible a reality, according to a Norwegian research group.

Philippe Collas, Ph.D, of the Department of Biochemistry at the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo in Norway, and his team of researchers have been able to reproduce in vitro various cell lines using adipose stem cells collected from liposuction procedures. According to Professor Collas, “The sky is the limit” with this new and exciting approach in isolating and reproducing cell lines, and it appears to have no limits in its applications.

Unlimited source
Professor Collas initially began working with stem cell adipose tissue not for regenerative purposes, but because stem cells are plentiful in the adipose tissue, which is abundant after liposuction procedures.

“From the liposuction material, we can purify cells that very much … resemble mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow,” Professor Collas tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. “We started to collect the adipose cells as a liposuction byproduct, and from them we could actually get a population of cells which, based on the expression of certain proteins, was a 99 percent pure stem cell population. These adipose cells do not have to be cultured, as opposed to bone marrow cells. Here, we can utilize the cells that come right from the source — right from the donor.”

From this population of stem cells, Professor Collas was able to conduct expression profiling as well as characterize the protein expression on the surface of these cells. He studied the transition from the donor to the culture and noticed changes in the expression of certain proteins that reflect the adaptation of the cells to the culture conditions.

Any cell line possible
According to Professor Collas, when these stem cells are put in culture, they begin to proliferate. He explains that one of the most interesting points in this culture-to-culture transition is that there are many genes that these cells express in vivo, that are not expressed anymore. For example, in the body, these cells express genes that would evoke differentiation potential towards other cell lineages. They would express genes that one would normally see expressed in bone, muscle, neurons, blood vessels and the like. According to Professor Collas, these cultured cells, to some extent, retain that differentiation potential into other cells types, at least in the petri dish.

“This is a very exciting development, and the potential that these stem cells represent can theoretically be wielded in many different aspects of medicine,” Professor Collas says.

One primary application of this technique, he says, would be to use these stem cells in reconstructive surgery with fat tissue, for example, in breast augmentation or reconstructive breast surgery. “Theoretically, though, these stem cells have the potential to become just about anything you want them to be. In the petri dish, we can differentiate adipose stem cells into a number of different cell types, such as bone-type cells, neuron cells or even blood vessel cells. The possibilities are many,” Professor Collas says.

Recent work from the Collas laboratory has shown that these apparently pluripotent cells are pre-programmed to become adipocytes, although they can also differentiate to become other cell types in vitro. But when looking at the epigenetics of these adipose stem cells (the way the genes are packaged into these cells) before and after induction of differentiation into various cell types, the cells seem to fundamentally remain adipose stem cells. So one can create a phenotype appearance (for example, a muscle cell), but intrinsically, the cells created remain adipose stem cells.

“These findings raise questions on the applicability of adipose stem cells to a wide range of therapeutic treatments,” Professor Collas adds.

A new paradigm
“I believe we will see a shift in reconstructive surgery in the future, where such cell lines will be readily used in, for example, breast reconstructive or breast augmentation surgery. We will certainly see a change in the field of plastic surgery because this new method of remodeling is essentially an autologous plastic surgery procedure. Many of the unwanted adverse events that are seen in plastic surgery procedures, for example, in breast procedures, will very likely be done away with because of this novel, autologous approach,” Professor Collas explains. 

According to Professor Collas, there are conflicting reports in the literature as to whether these pluripotent stem cells from adipose tissue indeed contribute directly to muscle, bone and neuron formation, and that this transition can only be achieved with embryonic stem cells. Some reports state that the adipose stem cells can turn directly into the desired cell type, and yet other reports state that they do not; however, the adipose stem cells may be helpful in that they can recruit other cell types that ultimately assist in promoting tissue repair.

Professor Collas admits that although this breakthrough research is very promising and has all the earmarks of being readily employed in plastic surgery, the general applications for using this approach are still a distant reality.

“One of the key and heavily disputed issues of stem cell use in such a forum is that it is still unknown if these cells can cause cancer. This is one of the limitations of this technique, and though one can speculate, the true answer to this question will be known in the next 20 or 30 years,” Professor Collas says.

According to Professor Collas, this technique does not bear any legal issues, as these stem cells are somatic stem cells and do not originate from embryonic tissue. Therefore, research in this vein can be continued and propelled forward, hopefully, fulfilling promising preliminary results. CST

For more information
Philippe Collas, Ph.D.
[email protected]

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