Japanese Man Becomes First to Receive a Donor’s Reprogrammed Stem Cells

Japanese Man Becomes First to Receive a Donor’s Reprogrammed Stem Cells

NewsLast March, a Japanese man became the first human to receive reprogrammed stem cells from another person. [1] The procedure was performed on 60-year-old male  who was diagnosed with exudative age-related macular degeneration, a serious disease that could lead to complications such as blindness. [2] Macular degeneration is the leading cause of age-related vision loss and affects almost 10 million Americans. [3]Although the disease is considered incurable, the new stem cell procedure may provide a solution. [3]

The surgery used donor induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that were stored at Kyoto University, which saved the surgical team both time and money. [2] Scientists removed mature cells from the donor, reprogrammed them to an embryonic state, and then developed them into a specific type of cell. [3] The use of stem cells always contains some risk due to the potential for genetic abnormalities. [1] Additionally, cells from patients with macular degeneration, who tend to be older, may have a buildup of genetic defects that make the procedure more dangerous. [1]

During this particular procedure, 250,000 retinal pigment epithelial cells were injected in the patient’s eye [2].  According to Yasuo Kurimoto, head surgeon for this case at the Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, the surgery was completed without any complications. [2] Head researcher Masayo Takahashi reported that it will take a couple years before they are able to determine if the operation was a success or not, citing the need to continue treatment and manage possible rejection. [2] The patient will be observed for one year and receive check-ups for three years. [2]

A similar procedure was conducted at the hospital in September 2014 when a Japanese woman obtained retinal cells derived from iPS cells. [1] However, these were cells originally taken from her own skin, unlike an anonymous donor in this case. [1] The surgery was a success: a year later the cells remained intact and her vision had not declined as expected with her disease. [1] Her surgery cost $900,000 and took ten months to prepare. [2] By using donor iPS cells that were stockpiled at the University, the surgery costs were reduced to 1/5 and the preparation time was shortened to one month. [1]

Shinya Yamanaka, a Nobel-prize winning scientist at Kyoto University who pioneered iPS cells, is establishing an iPS cell bank that plans on matching donors and recipients based on the similarity of three genes that code for certain human antigen proteins. [1] Although the bank currently only has one donor, his team hopes to have 5-10 in a year, which would allow for matches for 30-50% of Japan. [1] Diverse donors would allow for a wide range of iPS cells, which could potentially reduce costs and increase convenience in the future. [1] The bank has the potential to revolutionize medicine and provide alternatives by giving the majority of Japan widespread treatment options at lower costs. [3]

References

  1. Cyranoski, David. "Japanese Man Is First to Receive 'reprogrammed' Stem Cells from Another Person." Nature.com. Springer Nature, 28 Mar. 2017. Web. http://www.nature.com/news/japanese-man-is-first-to-receive-reprogrammed-stem-cells-from-another-person-1.21730

  2. Kyodo, Jiji. "Japanese Team Conducts World’s First Eye Transplant Using Donor IPS Cells." JapanTimes.com. The Japan Times, 28 Mar. 2017. Web. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/28/national/science-health/japanese-team-conducts-worlds-first-transplant-ips-cells/#.WPO2Zca1s2w

  3. Bhavsar, Neil C., and Christianna Reedy. "A Japanese Man Has Become the First Recipient of Donated, Reprogrammed Stem Cells." Futurism.com. Futurism, 30 Mar. 2017. Web.  https://futurism.com/a-japanese-man-has-become-the-first-recipient-of-donated-reprogrammed-stem-cells/

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