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Japanese researchers to trial stem cell therapy in four patients with serious spinal injuries

Published on 19/02/19 at 10:08am

The Japanese health ministry has approved a study testing the use of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to treat four patients with serious spinal cord injuries, according to researchers at Keio University.

The “unprecedented, world-first clinical trial” is scheduled to begin later this year. The study will enrol four adults who have lost all motor and sensory function as a result of sports or traffic incidents.

The initial four patients will have suffered their injuries within 14 and 28 days of enrolment.  

The team hope to develop cells that can grow into nerves from iPS cells stored at Kyoto Univeristy’s Center for iPS Research and Application. Investigators will inject two million iPS cells into the participant’s injured areas. The patients will then be rehabilitated with the aim of helping them regain motor control of their limbs.

A team of researchers at Keio University led by Hideyuki Okano have already been successful in restoring motor function in a paralysed monkey, using the same approach.

The therapy has also shown promise in primates with a Parkinson’s-like disease through which the Keio University researchers restored nerve cells in 2017. The treatment was tried in a human patient with Parkinson’s disease in November last year.     

Louis Goss

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