On 10 September, the scientific journal, Nature, revealed that a team of Japanese scientists would soon be attempting to treat a patient suffering from age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) with iPS cells. This would be the first person to be treated with iPS cells. A Ministry of Health Committee authorised the team of scientists to begin the experimental procedure.
This work is being led by Masayo Takahashi, ophthalmologist at Riken (Kobe). If iPS cells are used here, it is because unlike embryo stem cells, iPS cells are produced from adult cells “such that they can be genetically adapted to each recipient“.
In order to carry out their work, Professor Masayo Takahashi’s team has taken the skin cells of subjects suffering from ARMD and reprogrammed them in iPS cells. In turn, the latter have also been programmed to obtain retinal pigment epithelial cells.
Professor M. Takahashi’s team showed that iPS cells generated by the treatment recipient did not trigger any immune reaction resulting in potential rejection in monkeys and mice. Finally, Professor M. Takahashi found that tumours were unlikely to develop.
According to Riken, iPS cells could be implanted in an ARMD patient within the month.