Embryo stem cell research OK’d

Japan approved Friday its first medical research project using domestically created human embryo stem cells.

Past research into generating various cells from human embryo stem cells in Japan has used only imported cells, according to officials of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

By using domestically developed stem cells, Japanese researchers will be able to obtain intellectual property rights based on such research. The officials said the use of such cells is also expected to enhance regenerative medicine in Japan.

Kazuwa Nakao, a professor at Kyoto University, will try to have the stem cells generate blood vessels for test implantation in mice. Nakao wants to use the results to treat arterial sclerosis and other blood vessel disorders.

Nakao will also look into any differences between domestic and imported human stem cells in terms of how they respond to the experiments, they said.

The human embryo stem cells for the project were developed from fertilized eggs last year at the Kyoto University Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences. They can be developed into various cells or organs, the officials said.