Masayo Takahashi, an ophthalmologist at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, is set to treat a human patient with induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. iPS cells, unlike embryonic stem cells, are developed from adult cells and are capable of becoming any type of cell in the body. The biggest advantage of iPS cells is that they can be genetically tailored to each individual and can be used to treat various diseases. For the first time, this technology will be used to treat age-related macular degeneration. Takashashi converted skin cells from her patient into iPS cells, which she then converted into retinal pigment epithelium cells; these cells will be transplanted into the patient’s damaged retina. A health-ministry committee has confirmed that this treatment will not provoke an immune reaction and mutations of any kind, and has approved its trial in humans.
Read more in Nature.
Update: The surgery was successfully performed on a Japanese woman in her 70s on September 12. See details here.