A 70-year-old Japanese woman who suffered from age-related macular degeneration has received the first implant of pluripotent stem cells. Due to the advanced level Macular degeneration, a disease when blood vessels crowd the retina, entailing visual impairment and blindness, the surgery is unlikely to result in regained sight. However, researchers around the world are waiting to see how the patient’s body will react to the implant of the stem cells. The implant of pluripotent cells could result in cancerous growth
Accroding to Nature, In a two-hour procedure starting at 14:20 local time today, a team of three eye specialists lead by Yasuo Kurimoto of the Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, transplanted a 1.3 by 3.0 millimetre sheet of retinal pigment epithelium cells into an eye. Ophthalmologist Masayo Takahashi of had developed and tested the epithelium sheets. She derived them from the patient’s skin cells, after producing induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and then getting them to differentiate into retinal cells. The surgery builds off of research into iPS cells that earned Takahashi the 2012 Nobel Prize.
Kurimoto performed the procedure a mere four days after a health-ministry committee gave Takahashi clearance for the human trials (see ‘Next-generation stem cells cleared for human trial‘).
In cell biology, pluripotency (from the Latin plurimus, meaning very man and potens, meaning having power) refers to a stem cell that has the potential to differentiate into any of the three germ layers: endoderm (interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs), mesoderm (muscle, bone, blood, urogenital), or ectoderm (epidermal tissues and nervous system)
According to Rt.com “We will have succeeded if cancer does not develop after a year,” Yasuo Kurimoto said.