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Doctors at Kobe City Eye Hospital have transplanted liquid containing retinal cells produced from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into a patient with an insufficiency of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).

The surgery was the first transplant in a clinical study that aims to treat 50 patients over the next five years. The second operation is scheduled to be conducted in three months.

In early March, a research team at the hospital successfully transplanted liquid containing RPE cells made from iPS cells provided by Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application into a Kansai man in his 40s who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, an intractable eye disease that is a type of RPE insufficiency, the hospital said Thursday.

In 2014, the research team conducted the world’s first iPS cell transplant for a patient with age-related macular degeneration.

In order to confirm the effectiveness and safety of the new treatment, the team will expand the scope of research to cover all types of RPE insufficiency. People with the disease have difficulty seeing due to dysfunctional RPE cells, which send nutrients to light-sensing photoreceptor cells.

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