Science 2 min read

Hacked Fat Cell Repair and Heal Injuries in Mice

Colin Behrens /

Colin Behrens /

A team of scientists has successfully hacked normal fat cells to heal muscle, bone, cartilage, and blood vessels in mice.

The researchers began their study by collecting human fat cells and reprogramming them using cancer drugs. The aim was to strip the cells of their identity.

That way, they would revert into multipotent stem cells that could adapt to their surroundings in a mouse model. After hacking the fat cells, the scientists injected the reprogrammed stem cells into mice.

At first, the stem cells remained dormant in the rodents without showing any unwanted growth.

However, when the mice were injured, the stem cells adapted rapidly to the specific injury. They learned to replace muscle, bone, cartilage, and even blood vessel depending on the needs.

In a press release, the study’s lead author and a stem cell researcher at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Avani Yeola, said:

“The stem cells acted like chameleons. They followed local cues to blend into the tissue that required healing.”

The researchers published their findings in the journal Science Advances. Expectedly, the study raises the question of applications.

Using Reprogrammed Fat Cells to Heal Human Injuries?

The researchers envision a future where medical experts can treat human injuries or illnesses using stem cells.

They could remove the human patient’s fat cells and convert them into stem cells before injecting them into the injury site. Alternately, they could convert and treat the illness from inside the body.

However, there’s a long road between mouse study and human clinical relevance. According to study coauthor Vashe Chandrakanthan, it might take as much as 15 years.

Chandrakanthan noted in the press release:

“While these findings are very exciting, I will keep a lid on my excitement until we get this through to patients.”

With that said, the achievement is a first-of-its-kind. “These stem cells are unlike any others currently under evaluation in clinical trials,” Yeola said.

As such, it’ll be interesting to see how things unfold.

Read More: Researchers Use Human Stem Cells to Relieve Pain in Mice

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