Japan approves world-first trial using iPS cells to treat spinal cord injuries
Japan Times -- Feb 19
The health ministry on Monday approved the world's first clinical test in which artificially derived stem cells will be used to treat patients with spinal cord injuries.

A team of researchers from Keio University, which filed a request for the test with the ministry, will inject neural cells produced from so-called induced pluripotent stem cells - known as iPS cells - into four people who are injured while playing sports or in traffic accidents.

It is the fifth time the government has authorized clinical studies using iPS cells. The patients, aged 18 or older, will undergo the test treatment under the care of a team led by Hideyuki Okano, a professor at the Keio University School of Medicine.

"It's been 20 years since I started researching cell treatment. Finally we can start a clinical trial," Okano said at a news conference in Tokyo. "We want to do our best to establish safety and provide the treatment to patients."

Okano and his team have already succeeded in enabling a paralyzed monkey to walk again through the same approach.

The patients will have suffered lost mobility and sensation. The cells will be injected within two to four weeks of the patients' accidents - the period in which the treatment is believed to be effective.

The team will observe the efficacy and safety of the cells for about a year while the patients undergo rehabilitation.

The cells to be transplanted will be created from iPS cells in storage at Kyoto University and will be kept frozen.

厚生労働省の専門部会は18日、iPS細胞で脊髄損傷の患者を治療する世界初の臨床研究の計画を了承した。脊髄損傷になると、脳からの命令を神経に伝えることができなくなり、手足や体がまひして動かせなくなったりするが、これまで有効な治療法はなかった。
News sources: Japan Times, ANNnewsCH
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