A research team from Kyoto University will soon start clinical trials using induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells to treat Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's is an intractable disease that leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.
There are estimated to be about 150,000 sufferers of the neurodegenerative disease in Japan. No complete cure has yet been established.
Kyoto University serves as the center of iPS research in Japan.
The team, led by Professor Ryosuke Takahashi of Kyoto University Hospital and Professor Jun Takahashi of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University, has received government approval for the clinical trials.
In the trial, cells generated from iPS cells will be transplanted to patients' brains. The cells are expected to then become dopamine-producing neural cells.
The team hopes the treatment will eventually be widely used and included in the Japanese health insurance system.
Clinical trials using iPS cells to treat a retinal disease have been carried out in Japan. The government has also approved trials to treat heart disease using the cells.