January 22, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Japan stem cells

3 min read

Clinical trials using organoids are still rare and a Clinicaltrials.gov search for such organoid work largely brings up in vitro studies. A new clinical study in Japan where organoid material will actually be transplanted into patients is causing a lot of excitement. Masayo Takahashi (高橋 政代) is a pioneer in stem cell-based clinical trial work and more specifically induced pluripotent stem cell (IPSC)-based trials. Her new clinical study is another groundbreaking step in that it is organoid based, in this case for Retinitis pigmentosa. …Read More

2 min read

Masayo Takahashi is a leading stem cell researcher doing translational and clinical research on vision. She’s doing pioneering work on using pluripotent stem cells as a basis for helping patients with vision loss such as due to macular degeneration. She won The Niche’s Stem Cell Person of the Year Award in 2014 and a number of other awards. Last week I did a post on some exciting new clinical trial work starting here in the US by the NIH/NEI, and that sparked a great …Read More

3 min read

The NIH announced the launch of the 1st autologous induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cell trial for vision loss in the U.S., focused on macular degeneration. The protocol is based on a solid foundation of pre-clinical animal studies: “Researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI) are launching a clinical trial to test the safety of a novel patient-specific stem cell-based therapy to treat geographic atrophy, the advanced “dry” form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss among people age 65 and …Read More

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Japan is a leader in stem cell and regenerative medicine research, and in particular in clinical translation toward the bedside. Induced pluripotent stem cell (IPSC)-based investigational therapies are rightly an area of focus in Japan given their invention by Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka. Small clinical studies based on IPSC have been initiated there for several diseases including related to vision loss and Parkinson’s Disease. David Cyranoski over at Nature reports on a new, different stem cell clinical effort in Japan for vision loss with …Read More

4 min read

There is real hope for treating spinal cord injury with stem cell-based therapies in the future. However, unfortunately regulators in Japan have taken a major misstep in approving a not-ready-for-primetime mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based approach to spinal cord injury. Their decision is dangerous and unwise. In a Nature piece (linked to above) by David Cyranoski we learn that the MSC therapy in question is still unproven. There are only limited data available to support it, which are not from rigorous studies. The claimed outcomes …Read More

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Sometimes we could all use a jolt of good news and cool science. Those of us in the stem cell field probably get tired at times of all the bad-ish, even if important news (like this from Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times) out there surrounding certain unproven stem cell offerings and also clinics that engage in all kinds of stuff ranging from off-beat shenanigans to really dark stuff. Today’s post is focused mostly on the good news and exciting science. You can see …Read More

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A much-anticipated induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cell trial for Parkinson’s Disease reportedly will soon launch led by Professor Jun Takahashi. The news broke on Yahoo Japan, which included an unusual number of appropriately sober statements regarding the trial, even though it is an exciting trial as well, compared to most media stories on stem cells. Parkinson’s Disease is a result of a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the brain so it is a particularly attractive target disease for stem cells, which can be readily …Read More

3 min read

The Japan stem cell and regenerative medicine oversight system has been designed to move investigational therapies forward fast, much faster than the systems in other countries such as the U.S. But how well is it working so far? It’s an important question both for that country and more globally as the Japanese system was touted by some as a model and a reason why the U.S., to remain more competitive in this industry. Some of the same folks felt that the U.S. should also …Read More

2 min read

Where do things stand with IPS cell translational research? The newest development is that regulators in Japan just have given conditional approval to an Osaka University team to an induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cell-based study for ischemic heart disease. For years IPS cell-based products have been on-again off-again in active clinical study for macular degeneration, work led by Dr. Masayo Takahashi. The new heart disease study is led by Yoshiki Sawa. This appears to be the third conditionally approved IPS cell study in Japan. I’m not …Read More