Stem Cell For Breasts Enlargement
Good news for girls.
A new therapy that is intended to regrow a woman’s breast from her own cells after a mastectomy could be offered to British patients for the first time next year, The Times has learnt.
A patient trial of the new technique, which induces fat tissue to fill a breast-shaped scaffold implanted under the skin, is being planned for the spring by surgeons at a London hospital.
The initative comes as scientists in Australia announced yesterday that they would start treating women using a similar procedure within six months, the result of successful tests on pigs and mice.
If the trials are successful, the new approach would transform breast reconstruction, offering an alternative to saline and silicone implants that is likely to achieve better cosmetic results and a more natural feel.
The technique, which is expected to regenerate a breast in about eight months, could also be used for breast enlargement, though it will initially be used to treat cancer patients.
Professor Kefah Mokbel, of the London Breast Institute and St George’s Hospital, told The Times that he would seek approval from his ethics committee to try the procedure next month, and hopes to be cleared to start treating patients by next March.
The Australian team, led by Professor Wayne Morrison, of the Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery in Melbourne, has already obtained ethical approval for a trial involving half a dozen women, which will start within six months.
Professor Mokbel said that his first patients would be women who had been cancer-free for at least two years. That is to guard against the possibility of stimulating the growth of cancer cells left over after surgery, which is the chief risk of the treatment. “This is the next step in breast reconstruction surgery,” he said. “It is potentially a very exciting development. I believe it will be successful, and will allow us to regrow a fatty breast that looks and feels more natural.”
He added that it should be used only in clinical trials, not least because of the risk of restarting a patient’s cancer.
The technique, which the Australian team has named Neopec, involves removing some of the woman’s own fat cells, and enhancing the concentration of stem cells within them in the laboratory. A biocompatible scaffold is then implanted under the patient’s skin, to create a cavity that matches the shape of her other breast.
The stem cell-enhanced fat is injected into the cavity, which the cells divide to fill. The cavity is attached to blood vessels under the arm.
The Melbourne team, which has been developing the technology for a decade, has recently tested it on pigs, which grew new breasts within six weeks.