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Japan researchers plan to treat damaged spinal cord with stem cells

(Source: japantoday.com)

Japan’s Keio University is poised to conduct the world’s first treatment of people who sustained spinal cord injuries using induced pluripotent stem cells, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

If approved by the state, the private university plans to inject neural stem cells produced from iPS cells into four people aged 18 or older who sustained the injuries while playing sports or in traffic accidents, beginning next year.

For the planned treatment, a team of Keio researchers led by Hideyuki Okano, a professor in the School of Medicine, will first create neural stem cells from iPS cells in storage at Kyoto University, and freeze them for preservation, the sources said.

When a patient, who lost motor function or sensation due to damage to the spinal cord, appears, the researchers will inject the neural stem cells within four weeks of sustaining the injury — a period when the treatment is expected to be effective — to encourage regeneration of the nerves.

The treatment, whose plan was tentatively endorsed by the university on Tuesday, does not cover patients in chronic stage, or those who have had damage to the spinal cord for six months or longer.

The researchers’ team will try to develop a treatment for such patients, the sources said.

On Friday, Kyoto University said it had conducted the world’s first transplant of nerve cells created from iPS cells to treat Parkinson’s disease. The university is also expected to begin a blood transfusion test using platelets created from stem cells to treat patients with aplastic anemia.

Among other applications of iPS cells to health treatment in Japan, the government-backed Riken institute conducted the world’s first transplant in 2014 of retina cells grown from stem cells to treat patients suffering from serious eye problems.

Osaka University is planning to transplant a heart muscle cell sheet derived from iPS cells into the hearts of patients suffering from serious heart failure.

Kyoto University’s Shinya Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2012 for discovering iPS cells, which can grow into any type of body tissue and are seen as a promising tool for regenerative medicine and drug development.


More Info: japantoday.com

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