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UCLA researchers transform stem cells found in human fat into smooth muscle cells

Researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at UCLA today announced they have transformed adult stem cells taken from human adipose or fat tissue into smooth muscle cells, which help the normal function of a multitude of organs like the intestine, bladder and arteries. The study may help lead to the use of fat stem cells for smooth muscle tissue engineering and repair.

Reported in the July 24 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study is one of the first to show that stem cells derived from adipose tissue can be changed to acquire the physical and biochemical characteristics as well as the functionality of smooth muscle cells.

Smooth muscle cells are found within the human body in the walls of hollow organs like blood vessels, bladder, and intestines and contract and expand to help transport blood, urine, and waste through the body's systems.

"Fat tissue may prove a reliable source of smooth muscle cells that we can use to regenerate and repair damaged organs," said Dr. Larissa V. Rodriguez, principal investigator and assistant professor, Department of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Rodriguez and her team first cultured the adipose-derived stem cells in a growth factor cocktail that encouraged the cells to transform into smooth muscle cells. Researchers observed the genetic expression and development of proteins, which are specific to this type of cell. So it looked like a smooth muscle cell, but would it act like one?

The next step required testing functionality to see if the cells would expand and contract like smooth muscle tissue. Rodriguez turned to associate professor of bioengineering Dr. Benjamin Wu at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science for help.

Wu's team developed a special device to evaluate the cells' ability to contract by tr
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Contact: Rachel Champeau
rchampeau@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-0777
University of California - Los Angeles
24-Jul-2006


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