Japan researchers close in on stem cell trial

Feb 14, 2013 by Kyoko Hasegawa
A scientist is pictured on August 27, 2010 working on stem cells at a US university. Researchers in Japan have moved one step closer to clinical trials using adult stem cells in a therapy they hope will prove a cure for common sight problems, an official said Thursday.

Researchers in Japan have moved one step closer to clinical trials using adult stem cells in a therapy they hope will prove a cure for common sight problems, an official said Thursday.

The ethics committee at the Institute for Biomedical Research and Innovation in Kobe, west Japan, on Wednesday approved a trial treatment for age-related (AMD) using induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells.

The trial is aimed at creating that can be transplanted into the eyes of patients suffering from AMD, a presently incurable disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older people and can lead to blindness.

The institute, together with the government-backed research institute Riken, "will submit an application for a clinical trial with Riken to the Health Ministry by the end of next month," hospital official Kosuke Nagi told AFP.

If a clinical trial using iPS cells is approved, it "would be the first ever", a health ministry official said, adding a trial using —harvested from —had been undertaken by a US firm.

The ministry's deliberation process will take a few months before approval, the official said.

Stem cells—infant cells that develop into the specialised tissues of the body—have sparked great excitement because they offer the chance of rebuilding organs damaged by disease or accident.

Until fairly recently, the only way to obtain stem cells was to harvest them from embryos.

Religious conservatives, amongst others, have objected to research on human embryonic stem cells because they hold that the destruction of a , necessary for the harvest, is wrong.

But pioneering work done in 2006 by Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University, a Nobel Laureate in medicine last year, succeeded in generating stem cells from .

Like embryonic stemcells, iPS cells are also capable of developing into any cell in the body, but crucially their source material is readily available.

Yamanaka has called for the government to support his research financially, running in a charity marathon to raise funds in 2011, but his Nobel Prize has significantly boosted his clout and the issue enjoys widespread public support in Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last month his government will earmark 110 billion yen ($1.18 billion) for research towards the clinincal use of iPS cells.

Explore further: Stopping Candida in its tracks

Related Stories

The future of stem cell research

Dec 08, 2010

Perhaps no single scientist has had a greater impact on stem cell research than Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. While most of his colleagues were looking for ways to grow human embryonic stem cells into replacement tissues for treating ...

Stem cell implants boost monkeys with Parkinson's

Feb 22, 2012

Monkeys suffering from Parkinson's disease show a marked improvement when human embryonic stem cells are implanted in their brains, in what a Japanese researcher said Wednesday was a world first.

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

4 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

Stopping Candida in its tracks

17 hours ago

Scientists are one step closer to understanding how a normally harmless fungus changes to become a deadly infectious agent.

New technique maps elusive chemical markers on proteins

Jul 02, 2015

Unveiling how the 20,000 or so proteins in the human body work—and malfunction—is the key to understanding much of health and disease. Now, Salk researchers developed a new technique that allows scientists ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.