New iPS goal: brains, lungs, kidneys

JIJI

A science ministry working group studying stem cells and regenerative medicine has updated its road map on induced pluripotent stem-cell research, aiming to create human organs including brains, lungs and kidneys via iPS cells within 10 years.

The group’s updated plan, first compiled in 2009, calls for the distribution of iPS cells for regenerative medicine to start within the next two to three years. The announcement comes after Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka jointly won this year’s Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his revolutionary work in developing iPS cells.

The new road map includes a plan by the government-backed Riken research institute to begin a clinical study in fiscal 2013 on the transplantation of retinas created through iPS cells into patients suffering age-related deterioration in their vision.

In addition, a clinical study on heart muscle will start within three to five years, targeting patients who have suffered heart attacks or are experiencing other cardiac diseases. A study on brain nerve cells will also be launched in five to seven years, mainly for patients afflicted with Parkinson’s disease.

Riken official Shinichi Nishikawa, also a member of the ministry’s working group, said researchers from various fields should cooperate in compiling safety standards on the use of iPS cells.

The science ministry has sought ¥8.7 billion for research related to regenerative medicine as part of its budget request for fiscal 2013.