Breakthrough for New Breasts after Cancer Surgery

A revolutionary operation could soon allow women to regrow their breasts after cancer surgery. The technique offers fresh hope to the thousands of women every year whose breasts are removed in a mastectomy. Current reconstructive techniques produce far from perfect results and can leave scars. The new method would create breasts that look and feel more natural, while reducing the amount of scarring. It would also give women who have endured months of gruelling treatment a huge boost to their confidence. Breast cancer affects more than 45,000 British women a year and kills more than 1,000 a month. Around 12,000 women, including some whose genes put them at high risk of the disease, have a mastectomy each year. The latest reconstructive technique, which could be in widespread use in three years, involves growing breast tissue from a teaspoonful of cells. The Australian doctors behind the surgery have already successfully tested it on pigs and plan to carry out operations on women within months. The successfully grown pig breast, at the Bernard O’Brien Institute in Melbourne Phillip Marzella, of Melbourne’s Bernard O’Brien Institute, said: ‘We hope it will have a significant impact on the world. ‘We also like to think that it would alleviate the shock that a woman feels when she is diagnosed with breast cancer, to know she could possibly grow her breasts back.’ The technique involves inserting a bra-cup-shaped chamber under a woman’s chest skin containing 5ml of stem cells, drawn from her fat. A blood vessel from under the woman’s arm is redirected through the chamber where it supplies the area with oxygen and nutrients. The stem cells, ‘master cells’ widely seen as a repair kit for the body, turn into fat cells over several months, eventually multiplying enough to fill the chamber. The woman would then have a second operation to remove the chamber, although the researchers are hopeful of creating biodegradable devices that dissolve instead. In pigs, the entire process took six weeks. But it is expected it will take six to eight months for women to regrow breast tissue. The Australian trial will involve five or six women who have had a full or partial mastectomy. The doctors will not attempt to regenerate entire breasts but simply check that it is possible to regrow fat tissue in the breast area. If larger trials show the technique to be safe and effective, it could quickly be in widespread use. Dr Sarah Cant, of the British charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, described it as ‘extraordinary’. ‘

The next stage is to see if this technique will be safe and effective in people and only then can we assess its true potential,’ she added. We know that losing a breast can impact a woman’s self-esteem and so any new, potentially improved, breast reconstruction techniques will be very welcome.’But Anthony Hollander, professor of tissue engineering at Bristol University, warned: ‘They’ll have to be able to demonstrate a technique that guarantees that all the cancerous cells are removed and none are grown up in the process, so there is still some way to go.’  – Today, Melbourne is at the centre of the world of microsurgery. The Bernard O’Brien Institute Of Microsurgery (BOBIM) has led the way in clinical and experimental research over the past 30 years. The Institute has made striking advances in the delicate craft of replantation surgery and the transfer by microsurgical techniques of body parts and tissue to reconstruct people maimed by trauma, cancer, burns and congenital deformity. In addition to pioneering techniques in reconstructive microsurgery, the Institute carries out internationally recognised scientific research in the fields of Tissue Engineering and Vascular Biology. We also carry out studies on wound healing, nerve regeneration, inflammation, pain, the effects of trauma on tissue, and more recently, prostate cancer. Our Mission. To undertake clinical and experimental research in the field of reconstructive surgery and especially microsurgery for the betterment of the health of those afflicted by injury, disease or abnormality. Our Vision. To undertake clinical and experimental research in the field of reconstructive surgery and especially microsurgery for the betterment of the health of those afflicted by injury, disease or abnormality. Maintain international leadership by advancing knowledge through basic research and strong clinical programs in reconstructive microsurgery. To provide postgraduate training and continuing education by developing Academic Programs (Master of Surgery, Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor of Science with Honours, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy), which will attract the most able students, both nationally and internationally, and provide them with knowledge and skills of enduring value to equip them for leadership roles. Wayne Morrison The Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery in Melbourne, now a major Tissue Engineering Laboratory, was established in 1970 to promote research and training in microsurgery.  Initially known as the Microsurgery Research Centre, it quickly developed a pre-eminent reputation and attracted plastic and orthopaedic surgeons from the US, UK, Europe, Japan and elsewhere and many of these researchers have returned to their home countries to become leaders in the field.  More than 200 surgically trained researchers have completed Fellowships since 1972.

The Bernard O’Brien Institute, is affiliated with St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne and The University of Melbourne and continues to be held in the highest regard. It has developed into unquestionably the largest surgical Institute dedicated to the advancement of microsurgical reconstruction and research in the world. With the universal adoption of microsurgery skills as a standard pre-requisite for all plastic surgeons, the need for clinical microsurgery training has diminished and the Institute has evolved into basic science research. Its focus is particularly in the fields of Tissue Engineering, Angiogenesis, Matrix Biology, Peripheral Nerve Regeneration, Anti-fibrosis, Ischaemia Reperfusion Injury and Prostate Cancer. The Institute has been configured into 7 laboratories according to the specific field of research and expertise under the overall direction of a Chief Scientific Advisor. Each laboratory comprises a Senior Scientist, Post Docs, technicians and students. Ph.D., Doctorate, Masters and B.Sc(Hons) students are an integral part of our program. Overseas and Australian Surgical Fellowships have also been a key feature of the Institute and generally 4 – 6 surgical research fellowship positions are available each year, some of which are partially funded by a Scholarship from our Microsurgery Foundation, or through Melbourne University if a degree is undertaken. Shorter term visiting clinical Fellowships are available, but are unfunded. We have strengthened our field of research in Tissue Engineering, through collaborations, especially with Chemical Engineering, (University of Melbourne), the Adult Stem Centre, (Peter McCallum Institute), The National Stem Cell Centre, (Monash University) and with Matrix Biology groups. Recently, we have adopted a prostate cancer and metastasis group with overlap expertise in matrix biology and a team of Vascular Biologists interested in Stroke, IR injury and Angiogenesis. The Institute now has a staff of over 50 and an annual budget of almost $3 million. Its funding is from State and Federal grants, NH&MRC, Medical Trusts and Foundations, business, private donors, contract research and the Microsurgery Foundation.Vascularisation of tissues, a concept fundamental to plastic surgery is seen to be key to the successful translation of laboratory based tissue engineering into humans. We have developed a platform technology for vascularising tissue engineered products and organs and as our team comprises plastic surgeons, trained microsurgeons and scientists, with joint appointments to a co-located major teaching hospital, we see ourselves and our collaborators positioned to be essential players not only in the exciting development of tissue engineered products, but also in their fabrication and transfer into patients. news from &

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