A team of Japanese researchers says it has conducted the world's first transplant of cells developed from induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, in a clinical trial to repair spinal cord injuries.
Two Keio University professors, Okano Hideyuki and Nakamura Masaya, are heading the team to study ways to regenerate nerves using iPS cells in patients who have lost their motor and sensory functions.
They said in an online news conference on Friday that the team transplanted about 2 million iPS-derived cells into a patient who suffered a spinal cord injury less than four weeks before the operation.
The team said the patient is in good condition, and will be monitored for one year to ensure the safety of the procedure. Three other patients are expected to receive similar surgeries.
There are about 5,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries every year in Japan resulting in irreparable damage.
Nakamura said the operation was a big and new step forward, and that he hopes to continue the trials with the other cases.
Okano said it took a long time to reach this point, so he is happy about the first surgery. He says he wants to continue the research to apply the method to chronic patients with spinal cord injuries.