Improving fat retention after breast reconstruction - Research • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

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Improving fat retention after breast reconstruction

Dr Kirsty Danielson - University of Otago, Wellington
Dr Kirsty Danielson - University of Otago, Wellington
January 2021
Research Grant

What is the problem and who is affected?

Breast reconstruction is an important part of the treatment process for women with breast cancer as it can help to improve quality of life. Fat grafting (using fat from other parts of the body to recreate a breast) is a popular option for reconstruction because it uses the natural tissue from a woman’s own body and has low surgical risk. But as much as 70% of the fat injected into the chest can be lost due to fat cells not adapting to their new environment. This means patients need multiple surgeries to achieve a successful reconstruction. 

What is this research hoping to achieve?

Tiny packages released by cells called extracellular vesicles (EVs) help cells communicate with each other and have become useful tools for promoting tissue function. Building on earlier research funded by Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, Dr Kirsty Danielson’s study will look at whether a certain type of EV that comes from fat tissue – called adipose derived stem cell EVs (ASC-EVs) – could improve fat retention and therefore reduce the number of operations patients have.

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ is funding this project in partnership with the Health Research Council of New Zealand and Breast Cancer Cure.