• Kyodo

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Ophthalmologist Masayo Takahashi, who conducted the world’s first transplant of tissue generated from iPS stem cells, is one of the 10 people responsible for the most noteworthy scientific achievements of the year, according to British science journal Nature.

Nature noted in its latest edition Thursday that induced pluripotent stem cells are widely touted for their potential to generate genetically matched tissue for the treatment of a range of diseases, and that the transplant was “the first test of that promise in people, and therefore a major milestone for the stem-cell field.”

Takahashi is an ophthalmologist at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology, which has been plagued by controversy because of the alleged misconduct by scientist Haruko Obokata over so-called STAP cells.

The journal said Takahashi “injected hope into the stem-cell field during a troubled year,” an apparent reference to the STAP flap.

In September, Takahashi’s team transplanted retinal cells grown from iPS cells into a woman in her 70s who was suffering from wet-type age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that primarily affects the elderly.

The woman is making good progress and the team is checking whether the transplant is safe and prevents further retinal deterioration.

The journal said Takahashi’s work received intense scrutiny because of the controversy involving two papers published in Nature in January, lead-authored by Obokata, that were unrelated to Takahashi’s research.The other people chosen by Nature included Andrea Accomazzo, the head of Europe’s Rosetta space probe that made the first-ever landing on a comet, and Sheik Humarr Khan, an infectious-disease expert who performed genetic sequencing studies of the Ebola virus.

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