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Sacked lecturer suspected of using regenerative medicine for anti-aging in western Japan

The Osaka Prefectural Police headquarters. (Mainichi/Tsuyoshi Fujita)

OSAKA -- Police raided Osaka Medical College in the western Japan prefecture of Osaka in September over suspicions that a lecturer at the institution performed regenerative medicine for anti-aging and other purposes without notifying the government, those linked to the investigation have disclosed.

Osaka Prefectural Police searched the institution in the city of Takatsuki and other locations, suspecting that the 52-year-old lecturer's practice constituted a violation of the Act on the Safety of Regenerative Medicine. The government regulator, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, also inspected the school. The man has since been dismissed from the college, and prefectural police are questioning those linked to the case.

In March 2019, the 52-year-old instructor extracted adipose-derived stem cells from a female acquaintance and cultured them in a research facility at the university before injecting the cells into the woman through an intravenous drip, according to the sources. The college said it has not confirmed that the practice caused any health damage to the woman.

Besides the woman, the instructor extracted adipose-derived stem cells from three people including an assistant professor at the college and cultured them, but he reportedly never injected the cells into these people.

"I did it at the request of my acquaintances," the former lecturer was quoted as telling college officials during questioning.

Under the Act on the Safety of Regenerative Medicine, facilities need to gain a license from the central government to culture stem and other cells. Institutions that intend to perform regenerative medicine need to submit their plans to the national government after screening by a panel of experts designated by the state.

However, the lecturer neither submitted a plan on his regenerative medicine nor gained a license from the government for the institution. He even failed to receive permission from the university.

The college learned of the unauthorized medical practice this past May after receiving a tip from an insider, and dismissed the 52-year-old lecturer.

After receiving a report from the college, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry inspected the institution in August, followed by a raid by Osaka Prefectural Police in September.

In a separate incident in the past, a patient who received a dose of adipose-derived stem cells at a private clinic died.

Adipose-derived stem cells can change into various kinds of cells. Experts say they can be used to regenerate damaged tissue in patients by extracting the cells from their fat and cultivating and returning the cells to the patients' bodies. Such regenerative medicine is increasingly used for beauty care, but its actual efficacy and side effects remain unclear.

(Japanese original by Kumiko Yasumoto, Sakae Kato and Yuma Hori, Osaka City News Department)

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