Japan Panel OKs Clinical Study on iPS-Based Retinal Cell Transplant

Society Lifestyle Science Technology

Tokyo/Kobe, Jan. 21 (Jiji Press)--A committee under the Japanese health ministry approved Wednesday a hospital’s plan to conduct clinical research on transplanting liquid containing retinal cells made from induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells into patients with eye diseases.

Kobe City Eye Hospital in Kobe, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, aims to carry out such transplants on 50 patients to examine the effect of the method as a new way of treatment.

Subject to the clinical research will be patients with diseases caused by abnormalities in retinal pigment epithelial, or RPE, cells. Degeneration and functional deterioration in RPE cells cause a variety of vision-threatening diseases, as the cells deliver nutrients to photoreceptor cells, which respond to light.

In 2014 and 2017, a team led by Japanese government-affiliated research institute Riken conducted transplants of iPS cells into patients with exudative age-related macular degeneration, an intractable eye disease which causes the worsening of vision, and confirmed the safety of the therapy to a certain extent.

The clinical research by Kobe City Eye Hospital will cover a wide range of diseases attributed to RPE cell abnormalities, including atrophic age-related macular degeneration. Tens of thousands of people are believed to be suffering from such diseases in Japan.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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