Japanese researchers apply for iPS cartilage test

Researchers at Kyoto University have filed an application to the government to run clinical tests transplanting cartilage tissue created from iPS cells to patients with damaged knee joints.

The team is led by professor and orthopedic surgeon Noriyuki Tsumaki at the university's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application.

iPS cells are a special type of stem cell and have the potential to turn into any kind of body tissue.

Damaged knee joint cartilage is incapable of repairing on its own. Current transplants use cartilage cells taken from other parts of a patient's body. But the patient has to suffer extra burden from such treatment.

In the proposed trials, Tsumaki's group plans to transplant cartilage tissue grown from iPS cells into patients' knees.

The researchers hope to confirm safety and effectiveness of the treatment while reducing the burden on patients in enabling them to move their knees again.

The government is expected to start examining the application as early as next month. If approved, the group could begin clinical tests as early as next year.

Clinical trials using iPS cells in regenerative medicine are already under way at a few institutions.

Another research team at Kyoto University transplanted nerve cells produced from iPS cells into a brain of a patient with Parkinson's disease.

A team based in Kobe has transplanted retina tissue from iPS cells into patients, while an Osaka University group has given cornea tissue to a patient.