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December 26, 2011

Kyoto University Hospital sets up the Division for iPS Cell Application Development

In a joint project with the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University Hospital established the Division for iPS Cell Application Development on December 1, 2011. The division is designed to ensure the smooth conduct of disease–specific iPS cell research, thus laying the foundations for the future realization of regenerative medicine based on induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells. Dr. Toshio Heike, a professor at the Department of Pediatrics at the Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, was appointed the director of the division.

The research team of CiRA Director Shinya Yamanaka announced the successful generation of iPS cells from mouse skin cells in 2006 and from human skin cells in 2007, since iPS cell research has continued at the university.

The advent of iPS cells has opened new avenues for the development of pharmaceutical agents and therapeutic methods to treat intractable diseases and serious wounds. iPS cells are generated from patient somatic cells and then differentiated into cells of the nervous system, myocardium, liver, pancreas, or other diseased organs. Studying these differentiated cells can help researchers to elucidate pathogenic factors and develop new drugs and therapies. It is also expected that tissue derived from iPS cells can be used in cell transplantation therapy and other forms of regenerative medicine after the safety of the cells are established. Relevant research is ongoing at many institutes and corporations worldwide.

In collaboration with CiRA, Kyoto University Hospital has generated iPS cells from patients with a wide range of diseases. Using these iPS cell lines from a range of illnesses, it is engaged in research aimed at the development of pharmaceutical agents and therapies. The establishment of the Division for iPS Cell Application Development is designed to ensure that patients are properly informed about disease–specific iPS cell research of this kind and that research proceeds in an efficient manner.

The new division comprises two sections: One section is to collect tissue samples from patients agreeing to cooperate in the generation of iPS cells at the request of Kyoto University Hospital doctors. The patients are asked to sign an informed consent form after receiving an explanation on the subject of iPS cell research. The other section, which has yet to start its operations, will conduct tasks related to quality control. In the future, after taking necessary preparations for quality control and technology development of iPS cells, the division will undertake the generation of iPS cells from the somatic cells of healthy individuals for use in regenerative medicine, which would contribute to the creation of an iPS cell bank.

The Division for iPS Cell Application Development is supported by numerous medical staff at Kyoto University Hospital and CiRA. The participation of these staff members in disease–specific iPS cell research has been approved by the institutional review board of Kyoto University.

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