The team at the Careggio University teaching hospital have successfully tested a method that uses stem cells, explained Professor Luigi Cataliotti. ”Stem cells extracted from fatty tissue can help improve the quality of the reconstruction after a full mastectomy,” he said. ”Progress in breast reconstruction not only means increasingly sophisticated prostheses but also new regenerative surgery and tissue engineering, which allow for the clinical application of the latest research into stem cells from fat tissue”.
Full details of the technique have not yet been revealed but it is based on the regenerative capacity of stem cells, which naturally occur in adult organs and tissues and repair damage caused by injury.
The technique uses fat from the patient’s own body that has been enriched with stem cells. Stem cells are taken from one batch of fat tissue removed from the patient and mixed with another batch, which is then injected into the affected area. The stem cells ensure that the tissue grows of its own accord and enjoys a natural blood supply. Traditional reconstruction methods, in which fatty tissue harvested from the patient is grafted on to the area, have frequently been hampered by the intricate and often unsuccessful surgery required to ensure a proper blood supply. Plastic surgeon Claudio Calabrese, who has worked on the project, described the results as a ”global first”. ”In two years, we have successfully treated over 80 patients at the Careggi breast unit using this technique,” he said. Cataliotti, who heads the Careggi’s oncology department, said the result was ”a breast that is natural looking and aesthetically pleasing”.
The Tuscan regional government has announced 100,000 euros of financing for additional research into regenerative techniques for breast surgery. Over 1,000 delegates will attend this week’s conference, including breast pathology experts, oncologists, plastic surgeons and psychologists