Sarindr Bhumiratana/Columbia Engineering
Pig fat has made the leap from kitchen staple to laboratory marvel for its ability to grow bone. Stem cells from the fat tissue of Yucatán minipigs grew into pieces of bone that were then successfully implanted into the pigs’ jaws, researchers report June 15 in Science Translational Medicine.
The team of bioengineers used cow bone scaffolds infused with stem cells from a minipig’s fat tissue to grow bone grafts in a special chamber in the lab. The new bones, which were personally fitted to each minipig’s jaw, fared better after six months than standard bone grafts not seeded with fat cells.
The new research brings scientists a step closer to one day using fat stem cells to repair humans’ broken or worn-out body parts.