Early trials begin for new breast-growing technique
Researchers in Australia plan to test a new technique designed to stimulate natural breast tissue to regrow following surgery.
If successful, this technique could eventually enable women who have undergone a mastectomy to regrow their breasts.
It was revealed last week by Phillip Marzella of the Bernard O'Brien Institute of Microsurgery that early human trials for the surgical procedure are due to start in Australia in the next three to six months.
According to the Times, surgeons at a London hospital could follow suit within a similar timeframe.
In an interview with the news provider, Professor Kefah Mokbel of the London Breast Institute and St George's Hospital said he planned to seek approval from his ethics committee to trial the procedure in December.
"It is potentially a very exciting development," Professor Mokbel commented.
"I believe it will be successful, and will allow us to regrow a fatty breast that looks and feels more natural."
In order to minimise risk, the expert said only those women who had been cancer-free for two years or more would be considered for treatment.
This will help to ensure that only the growth of non-cancerous cells is stimulated.
The technique involves inducing fat tissue to fill a breast-shaped scaffold implanted under the skin over the course of around eight months.
This creates a new breast made entirely of fat which mimics the shape of the patient's other breast.
The researchers claim they have already successfully tested the technique in animals.
If successful in humans, the treatment could offer cancer patients an alternative to saline and silicone implants.
Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: "We know that having a mastectomy can be a very difficult experience for many women and so research to try to improve breast reconstruction after surgery is important.
"This is the first time this procedure has ever been trialled in humans and since it's at such an early stage, it is not yet clear whether it will work in people. But even if this surgery proves to be effective, it will be a number of years before it can be used in the clinic."