Researchers at Japan's Keio University are planning to conduct clinical trials to see whether induced pluripotent stem cells, also known as iPS cells, can be used to effectively treat a serious heart condition.
A team led by Keio University Professor Keiichi Fukuda intends to transplant 50 million cardiac muscle cells derived from iPS cells into each of three patients with dilated cardiomyopathy.
The condition is characterized by a decrease in the heart's ability to pump blood. Japan is said to have tens of thousands of patients with the disorder. A patient whose condition is severe may require a heart transplant.
On Monday, Fukuda's team applied to an in-house panel for permission to conduct the trials. If approved, the plan will then be vetted by the government.
A team at Osaka University is one step ahead of the Keio researchers.
The government has given the Osaka University team the green light to treat a different heart disease using iPS cells, and the team is already preparing to perform the first operation.
Professor Fukuda says his team will put all its energy into breaking new ground in the treatment of heart failure.