SAN FRANCISCO--A Kobe-based team of scientists has applied for permission to conduct a clinical study that uses human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to regenerate human retinas.
Masayo Takahashi, a project leader at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology, said Oct. 25 in San Francisco that her team has submitted a permit application to the ethical committee of the Riken national research institute and plans shortly to do the same for the ethical committee of the hospital concerned.
Speaking at an International Symposium on Cellular Reprogramming, co-organized by the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Takahashi said the researchers hope to start the program by the end of fiscal 2013. If the project is approved by the respective ethical committees and the central government of Japan, it will be the world's first clinical application of technologies involving iPS cells, which can develop into any of the various cells that make up the body.
Takahashi said the clinical tests will target six patients of age-related macular degeneration, a disorder in the central part of the retina called the macula. She said the scientists plan to engineer sheets of retinal cells from iPS cells derived from the patients' own cells and then transplant those sheets.
The operations will take place at the Institute of Biomedical Research and Innovation hospital, adjacent to the research center. Postsurgical management will be conducted in a Kobe hospital.
The ethical committees of Riken and the IBRI hospital will examine the risk of canceration and other complications in screening the applications. They will subsequently file applications with the central government, which will conduct a detailed screening on the basis of national guidelines.
The clinical tests can begin once they have been approved by the respective ethical committees and the central government.
To read The Asahi Shimbun story on iPS cells in a Q&A format, visit:
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