All Natural: Why Breasts Are the Key to the Future of Regenerative Medicine

To be in the company of Chris Calhoun is to encounter breasts, and encounter the damn things anytime, anywhere—including over a plate of spaghetti in a bustling Manhattan restaurant.

On this spring afternoon, the 44-year-old CEO of San Diego-based biotech company Cytori Therapeutics pulls out his laptop, launches a PowerPoint presentation, and there they are: conical and cantaloupy, As through Ds, beige and pink and taupe and tan, more breasts than you might see in a women’s locker room, never mind in the middle of a lunch table.

A passing waiter does a double take at this lively slide show, but Calhoun is oblivious. He’s talking excitedly about how these women’s bodies led him and his team of scientists to a discovery in tissue engineering, a process that could well be one of the most momentous medical advances of the 21st century: the use of stem cells—specifically stem-cell-enriched adipose (fat) tissue—to enhance, heal, and rebuild injured or damaged organs.

A few taps on his laptop reveal the unsettling “before” images of these seemingly normal breasts. There: a breast with a divot the size of a plum taken out of the bottom from a lumpectomy. There: a chest as flat as a floor mat from a double mastectomy. There: one so misshapen after a partial mastectomy, it’s possible to determine what it actually is only because of its healthy companion. “We realized that for these women there was a huge unmet need for a disruptive change in technology,” Calhoun says of the work that has consumed his team of researchers and surgeons for the past eight years. “It’s the first practical cell therapy.” He pauses. “And it’s breasts.” Which means cancer victims with breasts mutilated by surgery—as well [...]

The Present and Future Of Breast Enhancement

The statistics are in. 2012 is officially the year of the silicone breast implant.

Every year the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) publishes annual cosmetic surgery statistics from the year before. The numbers released on Tuesday, March 12th reveal that breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgery in the United States. In 2012, 0ver 330,000 women underwent this procedure. Of these patients, 72% chose silicone gel breast implants and 28% selected saline-filled implants. The number of women choosing silicone has skyrocketed since the FDA lifted the moratorium on these implants in November, 2006.

So what will 2013 bring?

This February the FDA approved the Allergan 410 form-stable, shaped breast implant for general cosmetic use. This implant, also known as the “Gummy Bear Implant,” is considered by many plastic surgeons to be superior due to its firm composition. It literally feels like a gummy bear. Plastic surgeons and patients have been waiting over ten years for this implant to be approved. I suspect that the number of women undergoing surgery with these implants will boom in 2013.

What else is on the horizon?

Even though all the major scientific studies show no connection between silicone breast implants and connective tissue diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, many women are still afraid of them. If you Google “silicone breast implants and autoimmune disease,” you’ll find a plethora of people who claim their silicone breast implants made them sick. Because of this, even though silicone implants are superior cosmetically, a large number of women are still choosing saline over silicone.

A fascinating implant currently in the FDA approval process is the Ideal Implant. Devised by a plastic surgeon, this saline implant contains internal chambers that allow the salt water inside [...]

Adult Stem Cells Allow Breast Reconstruction Without Implants: Researchers

Using people’s own stem cells from their body fat could aid in plastic surgery procedures such as post-cancer breast reconstruction, a small, preliminary study suggests.

The study, published in the Sept. 28 issue of The Lancet, looked at whether stem cells might improve the current technique of “lipofilling” — where fat is removed via liposuction from one part of the body, purified, then injected into another area of the body.

Doctors use lipofilling in cosmetic procedures to create smoother skin or fuller lips. But it also has a range of medical uses. Fat injections can help reshape the breasts in women having reconstruction after breast cancer surgery. They can also be used in correcting facial deformities caused by an injury or congenital defect, or helping certain burn injuries heal.

The problem is that transferred fat often doesn’t last, explained lead researcher Dr. Stig-Frederik Kolle.

“It’s unpredictable,” said Kolle, of the plastic surgery department at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. “And you often have to repeat the procedure to get a [satisfactory] result.”

So Kolle’s team tested a different approach: Take stem cells from people’s body fat and use them to “enrich” the fat tissue being transplanted from one body area to another. Stem cells are primitive cells that develop into more mature ones.

The researchers recruited 10 healthy volunteers who underwent liposuction to have fat taken from the abdomen. The fat was then purified and injected into the volunteers’ upper arms. In one arm, the fat transplant was enriched with stem cells; the other arm received a traditional transplant.

After about four months, the researchers took MRI images of the fat transplants, then removed them. It turned out that the stem cell-enriched transplants had retained about 81 percent of their initial [...]

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Suzanne Somers’ Stem Cell Breast Reconstruction Surgery

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SDF1/CXCL12 Is Involved in Recruitment of Stem-like Progenitor Cells to Orthotopic Murine Malignant Mesothelioma Spheroids*

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Stem Cells, Breast Reconstruction and a Magazine Cover

The cover of the November print edition of Wired fea­tures large, unnatural-​​appearing cleavage. Inside and toward the back of the issue, a curious article ties together stem cells and the future of breast recon­struction. It got my attention.

Wired, November 2010 issue

The detailed and admit­tedly inter­esting piece, by Sharon Begley, describes what’s science or science fiction: first humans, such as some plastic sur­geons, remove adipose tissue, a.k.a. fat, by a well-​​established cos­metic surgery pro­cedure called lipo­suction, from a body part where there’s a fat surplus — such as the belly or backside; next, lab­o­ratory workers purify and grow what are said to be stem cells from that that fat; finally, they use a nifty, cal­i­brated and expensive device to inject those fatty stem cells where women want, such as in a hole or dimpled breast where a tumor’s been removed.

The story starts, unfor­tu­nately and dis­tract­ingly, with a por­trait of a male, enter­prising and Pow­er­Point presentation-​​giving CEO of a biotech company, Cytori Ther­a­peutics. Toward the end of the article, the author pro­vides stats to support the potential business. Ulti­mately, improved breast cancer sur­vival means that greater numbers of women will live more years after a lumpectomy or mas­tectomy, she explains. The recon­struction market may expand further, still, because some women opt for pro­phy­lactic mas­tec­tomies upon pos­itive genetic testing for a BRCA mutation. Others, without cancer or high risk, might simply want to use these adipose-​​derived stem cells for cos­metic breast aug­men­tation. What’s clear, if nothing else, is that women’s breasts are per­ceived as a commodity.

In between the money ele­ments of the dis­cussion, there’s some cool science about adipose-​​derived stem cells, which according to the cited sci­en­tists are quite prevalent in fatty tissue and rel­a­tively easy to grow if you give them some blood to feed on in the lab. A putative [...]

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