Japanese researchers signal breast cancer regenerative medicine breakthrough

JIJI, Kyodo

Japanese researchers have boasted a major breakthrough in regenerative medicine for breast cancer patients.

Led by Bin Nakayama, associate professor at Tottori University, the research team succeeded in enabling breast cancer patients to recover what was lost after breast-conserving surgery — an operation to remove the cancerous tissue but not the breast itself — by transplanting fat mixed with their own stem cells.

The team successfully conducted clinical tests between September and January on five women, aged between 30 and 60, who underwent breast-conserving surgery. At least a year has passed since they underwent the surgery and none showed signs of the cancer metastasizing when the latest tests were performed.

Under the tests, fat taken out of the patients’ abdomen or hips and mixed with their fat stem cells was transplanted into where tumors and surrounding tissues were removed from their breasts.

If only fat is transplanted, most of it is absorbed into the body and only about 30 percent of it remains, because it does not have blood vessels, according to the researchers.

Under the tests, 70 to 90 percent of transplanted fat remained after blood vessels were newly formed in the fat, according to the researchers.

Stem cells are apparently capable of helping bring blood vessels into fat from surrounding tissues, the researchers said.

In Japan, about 60,000 people develop breast cancer yearly, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. Among them, 60 percent undergo breast-conserving surgery, according to the Japanese Breast Cancer Society.