In Japan, Masayo Takahashi is carrying out a clinical trial using iPS cells to treat ARMD, age-related macular degeneration - a"very debilitating disease that can cause partial blindness". For the first patient, the injection of skin-derived iPS cells stopped disease progression although her vision was not fully restored (see Japan: iPS cells save the sight of one female patient). Masayo Takahashi's team at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, has just been granted authorisation to continue additional trials in other patients suffering from an advanced stage of the disease.
The first clinical trial cost $900,000. In addition, the scientists noted "a higher risk of mutations on harvesting somatic cells from elderly patients" (see Japan: Suspension of the first clinical trial using iPS cells). For these two reasons, a new strategy is therefore under consideration for future trials using iPS cells taken from a cell bank. The iPS cells used will be "obtained from the same donor as opposed to using cells derived from each patient". Moreover, the use of a biobank will "speed up the process": "75 iPS cell lines covering 80% of the Japanese population".
France Diplomatie, Thibaut Dutruel (17/03/2017)