A group of researchers in Japan says it is using immune cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, in a clinical trial for cancer treatment.
The researchers say the clinical test started this month at Chiba University Hospital, near Tokyo, and is the first in the country to apply iPS cells to treat cancer.
The group is led by Koseki Haruhiko of the Riken research institute's Laboratory for Developmental Genetics and includes Chiba University researchers.
The group used iPS cells, which are capable of developing into any kind of cell or tissue, to create immune cells called natural killer T cells, or NKT cells.
NKT cells, which exist in the human body, are known for their role in suppressing the growth of tumors.
But the researchers say most cancer patients have very few NKT cells.
In the trial, the researchers injected iPS-derived NKT cells into a patient with head and neck cancer on October 14.
The patient will receive a total of three injections. The researchers say the patient has not shown any problems so far.
The group says it has high hopes that the method can be used for cancer treatment as NKT cells can be mass-produced with iPS cells.
The group says it plans to inject tens of millions of NKT cells into the patient and spend two years studying the safety and effectiveness of the method.