Kyoto University said Wednesday it has asked for government approval to conduct a clinical trial that involves transplanting cartilage made from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to treat damaged knee joints.

Under the plan, a team led by Noriyuki Tsumaki, a professor at the university who specializes in cell induction and regulation, will culture iPS cells to create cartilage tissue and transplant it into knees. The university said it submitted the plan to the health ministry on Nov. 7 for a review by its special panel.

The team has already tested the treatment on a rat and found it to be effective. It has also confirmed that the treatment carries low risk of rejection, fibrosis reaction or causing cancer, it said.

A board set up at the university approved the plan in October.

It is hoped that the new treatment will help treat patients who have damaged or degenerated cartilage due to injuries or illnesses.

Cartilage tissue covers joint bones and absorbs shock. A joint cannot move smoothly if part of the cartilage tissue is damaged due to injury or if it turns fibrous due to aging.

While there is a treatment in which normal cartilage tissue is transplanted, it is hard to secure enough tissue and part of the tissue tends to turn fibrous.