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Kyoto team uses iPS-derived cells to battle Parkinson's in world first

From left, Takayuki Kikuchi, assistant professor at Kyoto University Hospital, Ryosuke Takahashi, director of the hospital's Department of Neurology, and professor Jun Takahashi from the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University, pose for a photo after a news conference in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward on Nov. 9, 2018. (Mainichi/Yusuke Komatsu)

KYOTO -- In a global first, Kyoto University Hospital doctors injected neural progenitor cells created from iPS cells into the brain of a Parkinson's disease patient to ease his symptoms of the devastating nervous system disorder, the university said on Nov. 9.

The iPS cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells, are capable of turning into any type of cell, including neural progenitor cells. In the latest clinical trial started by the hospital, the cells injected into the patient's left brain are expected to grow into neurons and release dopamine to send signals to other nerve cells. Parkinson's disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine, causing symptoms such as tremors, slowed movement and dementia.

In the trial that started in August, as many as 2.4 million progenitor cells were injected in the man in his 50s in a three-hour operation. The hospital intends to test the method on a total of seven patients by fiscal 2022.

The doctors hope to confirm the treatment's effectiveness and safety as soon as possible and make it available for the general public under the coverage of the national health insurance program by fiscal 2022 or 2023.

Clinical trials are carried out under rigorous conditions based on the pharmaceutical and medical devices safety act, in order to obtain the government's approval. Effective data obtained from such trials can be utilized for early approval for use in treatments.

IPS cell injections are being tested for the treatment of difficult-to-cure eye ailments.

(Japanese original by Ryo Watanabe and Shinpei Torii, Osaka Science & Environment News Department)

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