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World first: Japan carries out successful donor iPS cell transplant

全球首例 日本完成iPS細胞他體移植

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

A team from Japan’s Riken Institute announced on March 28 that it had already carried out a surgical procedure transplanting retinal cells generated from a donor’s induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into the eye of a patient with failing eyesight. This is world’s first transplant of donor cells generated from iPS cells.


The treatment was carried out at the Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, and entailed injecting liquid containing iPS retinal cells into the eye of a man in his 60s suffering from exudative age-related macular degeneration, which can cause retinal problems and perhaps even lead to blindness. The procedure took approximately one hour.


A primary objective of the procedure was to confirm the safety of the treatment. Transplanting donor cells raises concerns of rejection, but in this case the iPS cells were selected from iPS cells with a low risk of rejection, created by a team at Kyoto University led by Shinya Yamanaka. These immunological type cells, which are kept in frozen storage, not only have a low risk of rejection by the host; they can also be cultivated after thawing and continue to multiply almost indefinitely.


According to Riken Institute project leader Masayo Takahashi, the research team will monitor the transplanted cells to see whether they mutate, and check whether the patient maintains his vision, predicting they will only know whether or not the transplant was successful in two or three years’ time.


The benefits of this procedure, compared to using iPS cells deriving from the patient’s own body, include shorter preparation times and lower costs. If the transplant turns out to be a success it will be hugely beneficial, with iPS cell therapy costs per person potentially falling from 100 million Japanese yen to a tenth of that amount.


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