Japan Grants Final Approval for iPS Clinical Trial to Treat Blindness
Japan's regulatory body has given final go-ahead for the first-ever clinical trial testing patient-derived stem cells to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common form of blindness. Six patients will be enrolled initially by the Riken Center for Developmental Biology and the Institute of Biomedical Research and Innovation Hospital in Kobe. They will donate a small section of skin from which researchers will derive induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells–a type of embryonic-like cell genetically matched to the patient. Thereafter, the scientists will then transform these cells into healthy eye cells to replace those damaged in AMD, and then transplant the grafts into patients. This pioneering trial will first test the safety and tolerability of the grafts.