Cytori Therapeutics, a biotech company, is hoping that breast augmentation and reconstruction can lead the way to the future of regenerative medicine. An article in the latest issue of Wired magazine reports on how Cytori is using stem cells from fat to help the body rebuild itself. CEO Chris Calhoun says his firm has figured out a way to augment breasts using stem cellâ??enriched fat tissue.
Cytori’s process for breast surgery uses liposuction to harvest fat cells (usually from the abdomen), and then the fat is injected into the company’s Celution System where a centrifuge separates the fat cells from the stem and regenerative cells and prepares the cells for injection. Finally, a surgeon injects the cells into the breast for the augmentation or reconstructive procedure.
The cells don’t become breast tissue; rather, the fat cells in the mixture provide volume and the regenerative cells encourage the growth of a blood supply that the fat cells need to survive.
Why has Cytori chosen to focus its technology on breasts? Since breasts don’t have much function beyond nursing a baby, the scientific and regulatory hurdles to getting Cytori’s cells into clinical use will be easier to clear for breasts than for other tissue: Breasts simply aren’t as necessary as other organs, so the bar for proving to regulators that the technology works will be lower, according to the article.
The company has completed almost a decade of trials on cell cultures, lab rodents and now humans. Cytori believes the same technology it is using for breast procedures could be used to regenerate other damaged tissue, such as in the heart or kidneys.
Cytori’s system has not been FDA approved, so it can’t be marketed in the U.S., although doctors can purchase it.