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Application for clinical research for iPS—by the RIKEN Kobe Institute

The possibility of conducting clinical research for regenerative medicine using iPS cells, which were developed by Professor Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, one of the joint laureates of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, has been raised for the first time in the world.

Project Leader Masayo Takahashi of RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (Kobe) recently applied to the Research Ethics Committee of RIKEN to conduct clinical research on six age-related macular degeneration patients, whose eyesight was failing, using retinal cells (retinal pigment epithelial cells) created from iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) that have the ability to develop into different types of cells from various tissues of the body.

The transplant operation will be conducted at the Institute of Biomedical Research and Innovation Hospital (Kobe), and inspected by the Ethics Committee of the hospital. When the operation has been approved by both of the Ethics Committees, an application to inspect the operation will be made to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. If the Ministry gives the green light to the operation, the transplantation will be performed in fiscal 2013 at the earliest, and is likely to become the world’s first such clinical research.

In 2011, a related research team conducted an animal experiment in which they created iPS cells from the skin of a crab-eating monkey, transformed the cells into retinal pigment epithelial cells, made a cell sheet from the resulting cells, and transplanted the sheet onto the back of the monkey’s retina. After a one-year observation of the progress after the experiment, the team confirmed the safety of the experiment, including the lack of rejection or tumor formation.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that causes blurring of vision with the onset of a disorder due to aging of the macula, which is located at the central part of the retina. In Western countries, AMD is the leading cause of visual loss. Also, it is estimated that there are 690,000 AMD patients in Japan.
Human iPS cells
Human iPS-Derived Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) Cells
Implantable retinal pigment epithelial cell sheet created from retinal pigment epithelial cells
Contact : Global Relations Office, Kobe Research Promotion Division, RIKEN Kobe Institute
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Website http://www.cdb.riken.jp/en/index.html