Finding a healthy use for fat
Close your eyes and imagine a world where you could receive a liposuction, magically extract specific cells from the tumbler of excess fat and then inject them into your heart tissue to repair the muscle damage that causes your coronary artery disease. Now open your eyes: Welcome to that world. Well, almost. A company in San Diego called Cytori Therapeutics has developed the technology and clinical techniques far enough that the Food and Drug Administration has approved a national trial for the procedure. The company is looking for 45 patients at five hospital sites around the country to take part in a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study code-named Athena.
One of the five sites already announced is Scripps Green Hospital, whose campus is just up the street from Cytori’s headquarters. The company told investors recently that it expects to report initial results in 2014.
The details of the procedure are of course pretty technical, but in general, Cytori hopes to use its device—known as the Celution System—to harvest adult stem cells and regenerative cells from the adipose (read: fat) collected during liposuction. Injecting a person’s stem cells into their own diseased heart tissues is then supposed to allow for improved blood flow and reduced ischemia, decreasing the damage that can lead to heart failure.
The treatment requires one night in the hospital.
Stem cells always still seem a little bit too magical to Outliers, at least as they’re described in news releases. But hey, the FDA thinks there’s enough there to give the trial a go.
And we can imagine a day when some patients might opt for a buyone-get-one combo deal of lipo and stem-cell therapy.
The treatment involves injecting “adipose-derived stem and regenerative cells” into diseased heart tissue.