A fully functional breast has been grown from a stem cell found in female mice, in a study that promises insights into recurring breast tumours and a fresh approach to plastic surgery.
A team led by Jane Visvader, of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, isolated mammary stem cells from the breast pads of female mice for the first time.
They transplanted one of these cells into the mammary fat pad of a living female mouse from which all breast tissue had been removed. The cell divided and gave rise to all the normal types of cell found in the mouse breast, and the gland worked normally to produce milk.
If the findings prove applicable to people, scientists hope to develop drugs that target abnormal breast stem cells to eliminate not only tumours but also the source tissue from which they arise. It may also be possible to use mammary stem cells to grow breast tissue for reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, or even for use in breast enhancement operations.
Via The Times.