What is Adipose Tissue Banking?

Adipose (fat) tissue is a rich source of stem cells with wide-ranging applications in regenerative medicine. Netcells offers the collection and storage of adipose tissue in the form of Whole Fat and/or Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF).

Whole Fat storage is simply the cryopreservation of fat tissue in its natural form. SVF however, refers to the cells that are isolated from fat tissue. In particular, the SVF contains adipose-derived stem cells, which are widely believed to hold therapeutic potential; they are therefore currently being evaluated in clinical trials for orthopaedic and cosmetic applications.

With Netcells, you are therefore able to store your own fat and stem cells for potential future use, and because they produced from your own tissue, there is no risk of immune rejection.

Adipose as a source of therapeutic stem cells

Stem cells are characterized by the unique ability to develop into various adult cell types. They also secrete a range of growth factors and other signaling molecules and are therefore promising tools for regenerative therapy. Adult stem cells can be isolated from various regions of the body and include hematopoietic stem cells (used routinely in bone-marrow transplants) and mesenchymal stem cells (such as those obtained from a baby’s umbilical cord tissue and from fat).

Mesenchymal stem cells are of particular interest due to their ability to a) secrete a wide array of growth factors and cytokines as well b) generate tissues such as bone, cartilage and fat [1]. Adult fat tissue has proven to be a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells known as adipose-derived stem cells [2].

How is your fat collected?

Fat is easily and safely obtained via a liposuction procedure conducted by a medical practitioner.

The Process

  • A liposuction procedure is scheduled at a time of your convenience.
  • The isolated fat is collected using one of our collection kits and couriered to our Netcells Laboratory where it undergoes processing and storage.
  • Your Whole Fat and/or SVF product is cryogenically stored in the vapor phase of liquid nitrogen until required for use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between banking Whole Fat and SVF?
  • Whole Fat is the pure tissue collected during the liposuction procedure. It is washed free of residual blood and saline and cryopreserved (frozen) for future use.
  • Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF) is obtained following the digestion of the Whole Fat to isolate the cells, including adipose-derived stem cells.
What can adipose-derived stem cells and whole fat be used for?

Whole Fat is commonly used today in aesthetic procedures for sculpting and as fillers. Banking your fat means that you do not have to go for repeated liposuctions, nor do you have to use synthetic fillers.

SVF is sometimes added to whole fat to enhance its retention of the graft when transplanted. SVF is also stored separately as a sample from which future mesenchymal stem cells can be cultured. Both SVF, and SVF-derived mesenchymal stem cells have shown promise in treating a range of conditions within the field of regenerative medicine.

Why should I store today if I can just get some of my fat in the future?

As with all biological tissues, stem cells start showing age-related changes as we get older. They start to divide slower and their reparative function starts to decrease. It is therefore better to store when you are younger, consequently preserving your cells biological age.

Can the cells be used for any other family members or friends?

It is postulated that adipose-derived stem cells can be used as an allogeneic product (i.e. for genetically unmatched individuals), because these stem cells don’t appear to be strictly immunogenic (don’t trigger an immune response). However, until sufficient data is available, for safety reasons we currently only allow autologous (self) use.

How much fat is collected for SVF storage only?

We request a minimum of 100 mls of fat.

Do I have to undergo a general anaesthetic to have the liposuction?

No. As only 100 ml fat is required, the procedure can be done under local anaesthetic in your doctor’s rooms. Please discuss the options with your aesthetics doctor.

Why does my blood have to be collected at the time of the liposuction procedure?

The Human Tissue Act requires that we test for the following transmissible diseases; HIV, Hepatitis B and C.

How long can the cells be stored for?

All products are cryogenically stored in liquid nitrogen at -196⁰C.

  • We offer the storage of Whole Fat for a period of 2 years.
  • SVF may be stored indefinitely for future use.
How much does it cost to retrieve my sample from storage?

There is a retrieval fee of R850 (including VAT) which includes preparation and courier.

[1] A. Uccelli, L. Moretta and V. Pistoia, “Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Health and Disease,” Nature Review, vol. 8, pp. 726-736, 2008.

[2] P. A. Zuk, M. Zhu, H. Mizuno, J. Huang, W. Futrell, A. J. Katz, P. Benhaim, P. Lorenz and M. H. Hedrick, “Multilineage Cells from Human Adipose Tissue: Implications for Cell-Based Therapies,” Tissue Engineering, vol. 7, p. 2, 2001.

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