TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese scientists announced Monday that they will begin clinical trials in the treatment of Parkinson's disease next month and turn "reprogrammed" stem cells into brains for a breakthrough in the treatment of neurodegenerative disease to achieve.
Jun Takahashi (L), a professor at Kyoto University's iPS cell research and application center, attends a press conference in Kyoto, Japan. This picture was taken on 30th July 201
The clinical trials come after researchers from the Japanese University of Kyoto have successfully used human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) to restore functioning brain cells in monkeys last year.
So-called iPS cells are produced by removing mature cells of an individual – often from the skin or the blood – and reprogram them to behave like embryonic stem cells. They can then be persuaded into dopamine-producing brain cells.
"This will be the world's first clinical trial to use iPSCs in Parkinson's disease," said Jun Takahashi, a professor at the Kyoto University's iPS Cell Research and Application Center, at a press conference.
The center is led by Shinya Yamanaka, who received a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2012, together with British scientist John Gurdon, to discover that adult cells can be transformed back into embryonic cells.
"We intend to continue our research carefully and swiftly, in coordination with the University Hospital in Kyoto, so that new treatment with iPS cells will be delivered to patients as soon as possible," Yamanaka said in a statement.
The fact that the clinical trial uses iPS cells instead of human embryonic cells means that treatment would be acceptable in countries such as Ireland and much of Latin America, where embryonic cells are banned.
Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co Ltd has said it aims to manufacture and sell cell medicine based on data from clinical trials by the end of 2023.
The company said, however, that the goal alone is not a common goal with Kyoto University.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Nick Macfie