Health Science

Reverted Pluripotent Stem Cells Turned Into Retinal Cells and Transplanted Back Into the Patient

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A Japanese woman in her 70s is the first person to receive tissue derived from induced pluripotent stem cells.

A technology that could offer the same regenerative potential as embryo-derived cells but without some of the ethical and safety concerns.

In a two-hour procedure a team of three eye specialists lead by Yasuo Kurimoto of the Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, implanted a 1.3 by 3.0 millimetre sheet of retinal pigment epithelium cells into an eye of the Hyogo prefecture resident, who suffers from age-related macular degeneration, a common eye condition that can lead to blindness.

The procedure took place at the Institute for Biomedical Research and Innovation.

The cells from the patient’s skin were reprogrammed to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The cells were then coaxed to differentiate into retinal pigment epithelium cells and grow into a sheet for implantation.

>He hit a sombre note in thanking Yoshiki Sasai, a CDB researcher who recently committed suicide. “This project could not have existed without the late Yoshiki Sasai’s research, which led the way to differentiating retinal tissue from stem cells.”

Kurimoto performed the two-hour procedure four days after a health-ministry committee gave clearance for the human trial.

To earn that, Takahashi and her collaborators had done safety studies in both monkeys and mice. The animal tests found that iPS cells were not rejected and did not lead to the growth of tumours.

>“We’ve taken a momentous first step toward regenerative medicine using iPS cells,” Takahashi said in a statement. “With this as a starting point, I definitely want to bring [iPS cell-based regenerative medicine] to as many people as possible.”


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“Reverted Pluripotent Stem Cells Turned Into Retinal Cells and Transplanted Back Into the Patient”