Silicon breast implants could be replaced by tissue grown from a person’s own stem cells within a decade, suggests new research.
Jeremy Mao of the University of Illinois, in Chicago, US, took human stem cells and used these to grow fat tissue using a biologically compatible scaffolding. He then successfully implanted the tissue into mice with an immune deficiency to prevent them from rejecting the implants. The implants had maintained their size and shape after four weeks.
“This is a project that builds on previous knowledge to develop a stem cell material that could be useful in society,” says Mao. “It seems promising and could soon be making an impact.”
Implants grown from stem cells could provide a safer alternative to silicon or saline implants, which can rupture and also interfere with breast cancer detection. They could also be aesthetically superior, keeping their shape and size for longer than artificial inserts, which typically shrink by 40% to 60% over many years, through spreading.