World’s first trial in ocular regenerative medicine
Sunday, August 11 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
The world’s first trial in regenerative medicine will be aimed at treating a form of age-related macular degeneration with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Unlike with stem cells from human embryos, there are no ethical issues involved with this type of cell.
The clinical trials will take place in Japan. Japan’s Ministry of Health has signed off on the project put forward by the Foundation for Biomedical Research and Innovation – a Kobe hospital centre – following approval from a commission of experts in June.
The researchers intend to use cells taken from the patient’s body to grow retinal cells and then implant them back into the patient. The cells, which will be returned to a near embryonic state, will be able to recover their immaturity and their ability to differentiate themselves in response to their surrounding environment.
This method for reprogramming adult cells to stem cells – a crucial step for regenerative medicine – was developed by the Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka and British researcher John Gurdon. This discovery earned them the Nobel Prize in Medicine. In Japan, work involving iPSCs is a research priority receiving highly significant funding from the government.