Masayo Takahashi of the Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe just cleared the second and, observers say, most difficult hurdle in starting her iPS cell trial to treat age-related macular degeneration, a condition that affects the retina and can lead to blindness.

On Wednesday an institutional review board (IRB) at the Institute for Biomedical Research and Innovation(IBRI), which is going to sponsor the trial, gave conditional approval. The team needs now only to notify the IRB of the final results of some preclinical safety trials now underway (see story in Japanese).

Having already received IRB approval at her home institution, Takahashi can now move towards the final step before patient recruitment: getting health ministry approval.  She’s expected receive that in time for starting the trials during this fiscal year, ending March 2014.