Could Celution™ Be the Solution?
By Robin Chang
Published on September 06, 2007
In a recent press release, Cytori Therapeutics, a little-known biotechnology company based in San Diego, changed the way we look at stem cells. The company, which had previously distributed therapeutic bone implants under the name of MacroPore, began doing research on stem cells in 2002, when it acquired StemSource, a stem cell research company founded by UCLA professor Mark Hedrick. The company announced early in August that it had discovered a way to purify adult stem cells from the extracted fat of patients. This new discovery, dubbed the Celution™ System by its creators, has shown initial promise when used in breast augmentation and with cardiac tissue regeneration.
The idea of purifying our own stem cells from our own fat and then replacing the resulting cells into the body is exciting for several reasons. First, because of the debate between social conservatives and researchers over the use of embryonic stem cells, stem cells are very difficult to obtain. The Celution™ System offers an alternative method of obtaining a significant amount of stem cells that is relatively minimally invasive and very fast. Second, the Celution™ System involves the introduction of a patient’s stem cells back into his or her own body. Previously, when stem cell therapy was performed with generic stem cells, there was always the risk of tissue rejection, which is a potentially fatal side effect of most transplantation procedures. Because the cells obtained through the Celution™ System are from a patient’s own fat tissue, there is no risk of rejection. This represents a significant step in stem cell research and treatment.
With the Celution™ System, it is possible to cleanse the stem cells from the fat withdrawn from a patient via light liposuction in less than an hour. Upon completion of the cleaning process, the cells can be immediately reintroduced into the patient’s body. This raises the very real possibility of women having their breasts augmented during a lunch break, with more natural-looking results than were possible in the past. This is because these breasts will be made of real adipose tissue, which is fitted into breast-like containers before being implanted back into the patient. This therapy also represents a potential breakthrough for women who have had mastectomies performed. Although the long-term safety and efficacy of the system in breast augmentation and reconstruction are unknown, in a recent clinical trial of 19 Japanese women who underwent Celution™ System therapy, every woman showed positive results with little to no side effects.
Another potential use of this therapy involves treating one of the top killers in the world: heart disease. The stem cells derived from the Celution™ System have been effective in clinical trials in regenerating cardiac tissue in patients who have reduced cardiac or blood vessel function as a result of heart disease. If this is true, this therapy could prove be one of the most effective and innovative ways for doctors to combat this disease.
Although Celution™ System therapy is at least a year away from being made available to the general public, there is legitimate excitement about its possibilities both in cosmetic surgery and in the treatment of chronic disease. As the therapy gains further media attention, the debate on the use of stem cells figures to remain at the forefront of public consciousness. Treatment with the Celution™ System is so potentially groundbreaking that it cannot be ignored by those opposed to stem cell research. Furthermore, it gives legitimacy to a field that has been desperate for good publicity after being smeared by scientists and politicians alike, increasing the likelihood of future stem cell research and the discovery of new, promising therapies.