For the first time, stem cells purified from fat have been used to heal an injury in a living animal.

Michael Longaker of Stanford University in California and his team showed in mouse experiments that so-called adipose-derived adult stromal (ADAS) cells purified from a rodent’s belly fat could be coaxed to heal a skull fracture too large to mend by itself.

The power of ADAS cells to transform into bone, cartilage and even neurons has been studied for years in test tubes. But Jeffrey Gimble, who studies human ADAS cells at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge says Longaker’s report is an important step forward. “Actually repairing a defect in an animal model had never been done. This is an excellent study.”

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