New research on stems cells from fat focus of international meeting in Pittsburgh Oct. 4-5

September 27, 2004

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 27 - Researchers from around the world are gathering in Pittsburgh Oct. 4 - 5 to discuss the potential therapeutic uses of stem cells derived from fat - the kind discarded everyday from tummy tucks, liposuction, body contouring and other common cosmetic procedures.

At the Second Annual Meeting of the International Fat Applied Technology Society (IFATS), being held at the Sheraton at Station Square, scientific sessions will explore how adipose tissue, or fat, can be an abundant source of stem cells that could be used for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. An important outcome of the meeting will be a consensus statement that will define key scientific questions for future study and determine the field's most promising clinical applications.

"Targeting Fat for Therapy: New Opportunities for Translational Research and Clinical Treatment" will be a forum for new research findings, including reports that demonstrate for the first time that adipose-derived stem cells can become bone marrow and smooth muscle cells, and preliminary results from what is believed to be the only human clinical trial using fat stem cells. The study, taking place in Spain, involves Crohn's disease patients who received their own cells to promote closure of a fistula, an external opening leading from the small bowel.

The use of stem cells to treat disease or regenerate tissue is believed to hold promise because of their potential to develop into different specialized cell types. While many ethical and legal issues currently limit investigating the possible merits of embryonic stem cells, which are limited in supply, much focus has fallen on adult stem cells from bone marrow, peripheral blood and other sources, including fat, which offers an almost unlimited source.

In 2001, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Pittsburgh first reported that stem cells could be isolated from adipose tissue removed during liposuction. Since then, researchers in the laboratory have suggested adipose-derived stem cells can be coaxed into new fat tissue, bone, cartilage, nerve, muscle and endothelial cells. In animal studies, these cells show potential for treatment of heart attack, stroke or bone injury.

While such studies have been encouraging, several questions remain. Among the key questions even those in the field are asking and that will be discussed at the meeting are: Will success in the lab necessarily mean successful outcomes for people? Are these cells isolated from fat really stem cells? Is all fat the same or does one kind offer a better source of cells than others?

To assist reporters interested in covering the meeting, a staffed press room will be available on site and informal press briefings will be scheduled as follows. Please note that reporters may participate in Tuesday's 12:15 p.m. briefing via conference call.

Monday, Oct. 4
10:30 a.m.
Where's the proof: Can fat-derived stem cells repair nerves and treat neurological disease?
  • Henry Rice, M.D., Duke University - fat stem cells and their differentiation into neurons
  • Kacey Marra, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh - fat stem cells for peripheral nerve repair
  • Kenneth Lee, Ph.D., University of Virginia - fate of cells in the central nervous system

    1:30 p.m.
    New findings: Studies indicate differentiation into bone marrow and smooth muscle cells
  • Rei Ogawa, Ph.D., Nippon University, Tokyo - first demonstration of differentiation into bone marrow and the potential for treating blood and bone marrow diseases
  • Rong Zhang, Ph.D., UCLA - first demonstration of differentiation into smooth muscle cells and the potential for treating urinary incontinence
  • Adam Katz, M.D., University of Virginia - perspectives and significance

    Tuesday, Oct. 5
    10:30 a.m.
    Potential for cardiac repair: Treating heart attacks with stem cells from fat
  • Marc Hedrick, M.D., MacroPore Biosurgery - pre-clinical studies of cardiovascular applications Kai Pinkernell, M.D., Tulane University - bone marrow versus fat stem cells - pre-clinical studies

    12:15 p.m.
    Where is the greatest promise for fat stem cells?
    IFATS consensus statement and report on the only human trial
  • J. Peter Rubin, M.D., University of Pittsburgh - moderator
  • Patricia Zuk, Ph.D., UCLA - biology of fat-derived stem cells
  • Jeffrey M. Gimble, M.D., Ph.D., Louisiana State University - research methods and design
  • Keith March, M.D., Ph.D., Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine - clinical opportunities
  • Prof. Damian Garcia-Olmo, University of Madrid - phase I trial for the treatment of Crohn's fistula

    NOTE: This briefing is available via conference call. Dial 800-860-2442 and indicate to the operator that you wish to participate in the "fat stem cell briefing."

    IFATS, the only interdisciplinary fat tissue society, is dedicated to facilitating the development of new technology derived from and directed toward adipose tissue. The society's current scientific areas of interest include facilitating the development of treatments for excess body fat, generation of new fat tissue for reconstruction after cancer or birth-related defects and the use of adipose tissue as a source of stem cells that have the potential to regenerate and repair different tissues in the body.

    J. Peter Rubin, M.D., assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, co-director of the Aesthetic Surgery Center and director of the Life After Weight Loss Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is the society's current president. The scientific program chair is Adam Katz, M.D., assistant professor of plastic surgery and director, Laboratory of Applied Developmental Plasticity, at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

    University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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