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Stockpile of artificial stem cells in works

Kyodo

Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka has revealed that a project to stockpile artificially derived stem cells for clinical research will start in early February.

The project is intended to create induced pluripotent stem cells from the blood of people with rare cell forms, known as the HLA type, that are less prone to rejection by the immune system when transplanted.

The cells will be stockpiled for immediate use, saving considerable time and money that would otherwise be needed to create iPS cells from cells from the patient.

Yamanaka made known his plan at a symposium in Kobe on Sunday. He is cowinner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become any part of the body for transplant.

The university’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application said it has gained the consent of people with those rare cells to collect enough blood to produce cells for transplants for around 20 percent of the Japanese population, with limited risk of immune rejection.

Up to 80 percent of the population can be covered if people with 75 varieties of special cells are found.

Abe hails Yamanaka

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has presented a letter of appreciation to Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka for his research on induced pluripotent stem cells, which have the potential to grow into any type of body tissue.

Handing the letter to Yamanaka in a meeting Monday at the prime minister’s office, Abe referred to the scientist’s achievement as “national pride.”

The letter states that winning the Nobel represents a great contribution to the development of science. The government unveiled a plan this month to spend ¥110 billion over the next decade to promote regenerative medicine using iPS cell technology.

“It’s now our duty as researchers to (seriously) take this assistance and truly move forward (in iPS-related research),” Yamanaka said after meeting with Abe.

Yamanaka also visited Shigeru Ishiba, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, and other LDP executives and asked for continued government assistance in basic scientific research.

“I had a wonderful experience as a scientist, but Japan only has 19 (Nobel) medals,” he said.

“We will do whatever we can,” Ishiba responded.