The study is one of the first studies to show the ability of a single adult stem cell to become multiple tissue types. "These cells should provide a valuable resource for tissue repair and for organs as well,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and senior researcher on the project. "Because these cells are taken from a patient's own skin, there would not be problems with organ or tissue rejection.”

The research team grew mesenchymal stem cells, a type of stem cell normally found in bone marrow. Using tissue samples from 15 donors who had routine circumcisions, the scientists were able to isolate single stem cells, which they then grew in culture dishes in the laboratory. The scientists used hormones and growth factors to coax the stem cells into becoming fat, muscle and bone cells.

When the differentiated cells were seeded onto three-dimensional molds and implanted in mice, they maintained features consistent with bone, muscle and fat tissue. "Our study shows that stem cells can be obtained from a simple skin biopsy and can be made to become three vital tissues,” said Shay Soker, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at Wake Forest's School of Medicine.

"Compared to bone marrow, a skin biopsy is easy to take, so it offers advantages for clinical use,” said Soker. "The cells can be obtained from any small sample of human skin.”

Next, Atala's research team hopes to test the function of the tissue that was created from the stem cells. "We've proved that the cells can be used to engineer tissues consistent with bone, muscle and fat when implanted in animals; now we need to test their function long term,” said Soker. The cells would have potential to be used both in tissue engineering - the science of growing tissues and organs in the laboratory - as well as in cell therapy, he added.

MEDICA.de; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center