Osaka University Seeks Japanese Authority Approval for iPS-based Heart Treatment Clinical Trial

Oct 27, 2019 | Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, IPS, Osaka University

Osaka University Seeks Japanese Authority Approval for iPS-based Heart Treatment Clinical Trial

The University of Osaka University’s Department of Cardiovascular Surgery seek government approval by the end of October to commence a clinical trial using iPS cells to treat a serious heart condition. The team will be led by Yoshiki Sawa, professor at Osaka University.

The Study

The treatment involves transplanting sheets of heart muscle cells that will be generated from induced pluripotent stem cells that can develop into any type of tissue. The sheets will be transplanted to individuals suffering from ischemic heart disease. 

Caused by plaque buildup in the coronary arteries, the flow of the patient’s blood to the heart becomes impeded or blocked. The study was actually approved last year but then was delayed by an earthquake in western Japan reports the Japan Times.

What are induced Pluripotent Stem Cells?

Induced pluripotent stem cell are a type of pluripotent stem cell that is made directly from adult cells. The iPSC technology was pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka’s lab in Kyoto, Japan, who in 2006 revealed that the introduction of four specific genes encoding transcription factors could convert adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. Yamanaka was awarded the Nobel Prize along with Sr. John Gurdon “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.” 

They hold great promise in the field of regenerative medicine as they can propagate indefinitely and give rise to every other cell type in the body (e.g. neurons, heart, pancreatic and liver cells).  They represent a single source of cells that could be used to replace those lost to damage or disease.

Derived from any Adult Tissue

As iPSC can be derived directly from adult tissues—hence bypassing the controversial embryo source and can be made in a patient-matched manner, meaning that each individual patient could have their own pluripotent stem cell line. These unlimited supplies of autologous cells could be used to generate transplants without the risk of immune rejection.  While the iPSC technology still is at a early stage, they are being used in personalized drug discovery efforts and helping to understand the patient-specific basis of disease. 

Lead Research/Investigator

Yoshiki Sawa, Professor Osaka University

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