Science & Technology

Japan tests first spinal cord injury treatment with iPS cells

Tokyo, Jan 14 (EFE).- Researchers at Keio University in Tokyo have launched the world’s first clinical study to treat spinal cord injuries with induced pluripotency cells (iPS), the institution reported Friday.

The team participating in the project successfully transplanted the cells in the first patient last December, who is progressing favorably, the center said in a statement.

Those responsible for the project did not offer details about the gender, age or the cause of the injuries of the transplanted patient, who is currently undergoing rehabilitation.

The project received the green light from the Japanese Health Ministry in 2019, but the search for candidates was suspended in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which delayed the roadmap.

Four patients are expected to receive an iPS cell transplant throughout the clinical trial to treat spinal cord injuries that caused them to lose motor and sensory function two to four weeks earlier as a result of sports or traffic accidents.

The main objective of the study is to determine the safety of the treatment, which an independent committee of experts will evaluate after analyzing the data extracted from the evolution of the patients, such as its potential impact on neurological function and quality of life.

Keio University expects to find the second patient in April at the earliest. The team believes it will take at least three to five years to obtain the necessary data to know what the prospects are for the practical use of the treatment and its feasibility.

The treatment entails the transplantation of about 2 million cells to each patient, created from iPS cells stored in a storage bank at Kyoto University.

In the future, researchers want to increase the number of cells to be transplanted to improve the efficacy of the treatment.

In the future, the team wants to investigate the use of these cells in patients with chronic spinal injuries (six or more months after suffering them), which account for the majority.

The clinical application of iPS cells, which have the ability to convert into any specialized cell type, is expected to expand the possibilities of regenerative treatments and represent a major advance toward personalized medicine.

The pioneer in generating iPS, the Japanese researcher at Kyoto University Shinya Yamanaka, was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the method he developed to create this type of cell by reprogramming mature cells.

His discovery solves the ethical problem of working with embryonic stem cells which, like iPS cells, also have the ability to transform into any type of cell. EFE


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