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Japan approves world's first human stem cell clinical trial

June 26, 2013 at 4:36 PM   |   Comments

TOKYO, June 26 (UPI) -- A Japanese government panel has approved the world's first clinical research using human induced pluripotent stem cells, officials said.

The panel of the country's Health Ministry has issued approval for governmental scientific research institute Riken and the Foundation for Biomedical Research and Innovation to conduct a clinical research plan to use iPS cells for retinal regeneration, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

Kyoto University Professor Shinya Yamanaka co-won the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his development of iPS cells, which can grow into any type of human body tissue and are seen as candidates for regenerative medicine and drug development.

The clinical research team will try to develop treatment techniques using iPS cells to cure age-related macular degeneration, a condition that can cause sudden vision loss due to retinal damage.

The team said it would extract skin cells from several patients, create iPS cells from them, develop them into pigment epithelium of the retina and transplant them into the patients' retinas.

The researchers said they would attempt the transplants next year.

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