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February 27, 2012

The CiRA International Symposium 2012 held with 270 participants

On February 23, CiRA hosted its first international symposium with the main theme, "Advances in Nuclear Reprogramming and Stem Cell Research,'' at Kyoto University Clock Tower Centennial Hall. In spite of rain, approximately 270 researchers and students from in and outside of Japan took part in the meeting to share information and discuss issues related to stem cell research.

The purposes of the symposium were to promote the worldwide dissemination of latest research results by leading scientists and to advance iPS cell research towards the standardization of iPS cell technologies.

The invited speakers from overseas were Dr. Austin Smith of the University of Cambridge, one of the authorities in the field of embryonic stem cell research, and Dr. Marius Wernig of Stanford University, a pioneer of direct reprogramming technology.

In the morning sessions, Dr. Mitinori Saitou of Kyoto University, Dr. Smith and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, director of CiRA, talked about their fundamental studies regarding ES or iPS cells, showing unpublished data. In the afternoon, Dr. Masaki Ieda of Keio University and Dr. Wernig gave lectures on their researches on generating somatic cells such as cardiomyocytes and neuronal cells directly from skin cells without using iPS cells. Dr. Haruhisa Inoue of CiRA showed newest data of the research towards medical applications using neurons differentiated from iPS cells made by using somatic cells of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.

A panel discussion on the theme "iPS Cell Capability and Potential" was also held with all six speakers as panelists. They discussed three topics: "Pluripotent Stem Cells and Reprogramming Biology,'' "Cell Fate Manipulation" and "Reprogramming to the Clinic." On the second topic, the panelists compared two approaches, making target cells with or without using iPS cells, and argued on their advantages and disadvantages. Some panelists said that it would be important to select an appropriate method depending on diseases if such man-made cells become available for regenerative medicine in the future.

This symposium was supported by the Funding Program for the World-Leading Innovative R&D on Science and Technology (FIRST), Cabinet Office, Government of Japan.

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