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First Ever iPS-Cell Trial a Go

The Japanese government will allow a study of stem cell therapy using patients’ own cells, reprogrammed to be stem cells, to treat vision loss.

Jul 22, 2013
Bob Grant

WIKIMEDIA, SHELOVESGHOSTSResearchers in Japan will conduct a small clinical trial of a stem-cell treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes blindness in older people, after receiving the Japanese government’s permission last week to commence the study, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Scientists at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology and the Institute of Biomedical Research and Innovation Hospital will take adult skin cells from six AMD patients and reprogram them to into a stem-like state, before injecting them back into the subjects’ retinas to treat the disorder.

The trial, which will take place in Kobe, will be the first to test a treatment using such induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in humans, though ongoing trials in the U.S. are already testing the effectiveness of treating AMD patients with human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). A successful iPSC approach would allow patients to be treated with their own cells, however, avoiding rejection and the ethical issues that come along with hESC-therapies.

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