The Surprising Way Your Body Fat Could Save Your Life

All our lives we have been told that fat is not our friend. That is still very true, but we may want to hold on to just a little bit of that fat. As it turns out, doctors have found a new way to use fat cells to help fight serious diseases and even cure paralysis. Take a look at a recent advancement in stem cell research that spells a new future where fat is our friend.

Salamanders inspired a revolution in science

salamander from drakness

Salamanders can regenerate limbs. | iStock.com/david0ff1er

Salamanders are notorious for being able to lose limbs and be able to regenerate them. The reason they can do this is through a process called multipotency. It allows adult cells to lose some of their characteristics and become stem cells to regenerate damaged flesh. Scientists have been fascinated by this for a long time and have tried to mimic it in humans.

Next: What if we could regenerate a limb?

If we had multipotency, what could it cure?

Scientists hope to find a way to end things like paralysis. |  Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

The vision of stem cell research is that we would be able to grow any tissue in the body to heal a patient of whatever ails them. Was your spinal cord severed? Let us plant some stem cells in there and get you walking again. Do you need a lung transplant? We’ll grow you a lung in the lab that will be genetically identical to you. The possibilities are literally endless. The only problems are the hurdles associated with embryonic stem cells.

Next: Embryonic stem cells are the most commonly used stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells are the most are still the most common

Embryonic stem cells seemed to show a lot of potential. | iLexx/iStock/Getty Images

The majority of the research into cell regeneration has come from the discovery of embryonic stem cells. When it was discovered that inside the womb were cells that could turn into any cell needed, it inspired a cascade of research. The thought was that we could harvest those cells and deliver them directly to the patient later in life. A sort of insurance plan if you will.

Next: The biggest problem with embryonic stem cells is actually really shocking.

Embryonic stem cells have some significant challenges

Stem cells tend to grow into tumors. | California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

The biggest problem with embryonic stem cells is that they tend to grow into tumors. So, in fact, we need another way to create safer stem cells. That’s where the research that these scientists have done come into play.

Next: Here’s what researchers think they have discovered.

How can we mimic the multipotency

MERS virus

Could stem cells be spread like viruses? | gaetan stoffel/Getty Images

Some of the research that has gone into this field of study is to find new ways to actually create new stem cells from existing tissue. The predominant method of doing that is a method using viruses to reset any cell into a stem cell. Planting a virus into a person’s body has some obvious concerns and has yet to be proven effective.

Next: The newest method using your fat cells is extremely exciting.

We can change fat cells into new stem cells

scientists

Fat cells can be reduced to a multipotent state. | indukas/iStock/Getty Images

The newest method that researchers have come up with at the University of New South Whales turns your own fat into stem cells. The method doesn’t require harvesting new embryonic stem cells or viruses to reset adult cells.

The doctors treated fat and bone cells with 5-Azacytidine (AZA); and platelet-derived growth factor-AB (PDGF-AB) for two days. This basically made the fat cells go back to their original multipotent state.

Next: The opportunities are limitless. 

What advantages does that give the patient?

perfusionist

Transplants are still risky and not always effective. | Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images)

The biggest problem with transplants right now is that your body can still reject them no matter how close a genetic match they are. If you are able to easily use your own body’s cells, then you wouldn’t have to worry about the body rejecting it. Add to that, you don’t have to worry about tumors or viruses.

Next: Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Put the cake down until after you read the next page.

Don’t stop dieting

Keep yourself healthy. Having more fat doesn’t necessarily mean more stem cells. | iStock

Just because scientists were able to figure this new method out, doesn’t give you permission to no diet and exercise. Having more fat than the person next to you doesn’t give you a stem cell advantage. You need to continue to stay healthy so that doctors won’t have to use them. Prevention is way easier than this method.

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