Japanese woman is first recipient of next-generation stem cells

Sep 16, 2014

By David Cyranoski


A Japanese woman in her 70s is the first person to receive tissue derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, a technology that has created great expectations since it could offer the same regenerative potential as embryo-derived cells but without some of the ethical and safety concerns.

In a two-hour procedure starting at 14:20 local time today, a team of three eye specialists lead by Yasuo Kurimoto of the Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, implanted a 1.3 by 3.0 millimetre sheet of retinal pigment epithelium cells into an eye of the Hyogo prefecture resident, who suffers from age-related macular degeneration, a common eye condition that can lead to blindness.

The procedure took place at the Institute for Biomedical Research and Innovation, next to the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB), where ophthalmologist Masayo Takahashi had developed and tested the epithelium sheets. Takahashi had reprogrammed some cells from the patient’s skin to produce induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. (‘Pluripotent’ means able to differentiate into virtually any type of tissue in the body.) She then coaxed those cells to differentiate into retinal pigment epithelium cells and grow into a sheet for implantation.

The patient had no effusive bleeding or other serious problems after the surgery, RIKEN reported.


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3 comments on “Japanese woman is first recipient of next-generation stem cells

  • 1
    charlotte says:

    I wonder if the ‘ethical’ side of it is largely related to religious opposition for stem cell research, but I’ve been hearing about stem cell research for a long time and it feels like it’s not being touched upon greatly enough. I mean, what I just read up there, and what I’ve just googled about this research, seems bloody amazing!

    But that might just be me falling behind the times. Either way, I can’t wait to see what comes of this woman’s treatment!

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  • yes, I’m pretty sure without religious interference there’d be no ethical issue to answer. unused embryos used for therapy instead of going down the drain, seems like you’d need to believe in some wierd stuff to think there’s any sort of dilema there.

    There’s not been enough news on developments though as you point out but it’s interesting how much science has moved forward on second gen stem cells, presumibly because of the blocks put in the way by the catholic church and dubyah bush. Yet there’s surprisingly little fanfare from religious groups, or much effort to raise money to fund research which, to a cynical feline could look like the fake ethical argument is just any old excuse to try and hold back medical research that constantly comes up with better solutions than having a man in a dress making a tidy living out of wishing by proxy for people to get better.

    The only ethical argument I think needs addressing is, in light of the astounding advances being made, how much needless suffering has happened for the sake of lying to people that a microscopic collection of cells has feelings

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  • 3
    phill057 says:

    Being former religious all this was preached against at the church i attended. I could never see this. If is the betterment of an individual how is there an ethical question and what justification for bringing it into an argument. If it meant digging out another persons eye or sawing off another persons arm or leg then yest I would raise a question.
    As an anti theist now. All these ethical questions should not be tolerated at all. If a religious group object just tell them to return to their church and let us in the real world move on.

    This whole procedure is just simply wonderful. Let us hope it is the start of a lot more stories like this

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