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Riken to resume retinal iPS transplant study in cooperation with Kyoto University

JIJI, Kyodo

The Riken research institute says it will resume a clinical study in which retinal tissues developed from iPS cells will be transplanted to a person with an eye disease, in cooperation with Kyoto University and other medical institutes.

The Kobe-based Riken Center for Developmental Biology, or CDB, successfully conducted a retinal transplant in 2014 using induced pluripotent stem cells, a world first. A second trial was suspended due to a gene abnormality found in iPS cells.

In the first trial, iPS cells were created from cells taken from the patient who underwent the transplant.

Next time, the study team, led by Masayo Takahashi, project leader at the CDB, plans to use iPS cells created from mature cells of others, since the first operation showed that using a patient’s own cells is time-consuming and costly.

Researchers hope to carry out the first operation early next year. Through the study, which will cover a total of 20 patients, the team aims to check whether such treatment causes any abnormalities, including cancer.

For the second trial, the CDB will develop retinal tissues from iPS cells supplied by Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, headed by Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka, the creator of the pluripotent cells.

Transplants of CDB-developed retinal tissues will be conducted at Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital and Osaka University Hospital.

The four institutes have signed an agreement to strengthen their collaboration. The partnership is “encouraging,” Takahashi said at a news conference Monday.

Yamanaka said he was heartened by the four institutes teaming up to push the study forward.