Zee Media Bureau
Tokyo: A Japanese patient with a debilitating eye disease will be the first person in the world to be treated with the next-generation stem cells called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.
The technique, which has earned its inventor a Nobel Prize, will now be used to treat a Japanese man suffering from age-related macular degeneration, a debilitating eye disease.
According to the scientific journal Nature, a 19-member health ministry committee has vetted the researchers' safety tests and cleared the team to begin the experimental procedure.
Masayo Takahashi, an ophthalmologist at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe has been using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to prepare a treatment for age related macular degeneration.
During her research on mice and monkeys, Takahashi took skin cells from people with the disease and converted them to iPS cells.
She then coaxed these cells to become retinal pigment epithelium cells and then to grow into thin sheets that can be transplanted onto the damaged retina.
In monkey studies, iPS cells generated from the recipients' own cells did not provoke an immune reaction that caused them to be rejected.
They are capable of becoming any cell type in the body and have the potential to treat a wide range of diseases.
The news could be a welcome boost for the CDB which has been mired in controversy over studies on stem cell research that were later retracted, the report added.
(With IANS Inputs)