Heart Treatment with iPS Cells – Joint Japanese Research

In order to treat heart disease, induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells will be used in a joint study by two professors from Osaka and Kyoto university.

The joint research will be conducted by Osaka University Professor Yoshiki Sawa, who has treated heart disease using cell sheets created from muscle, and Kyoto University Professor Shinya Yamanaka, who created iPS cells that can develop into various types of cells, such as organ or tissue cells, from ordinary human skin.

Cardiac muscle regeneration treatment is the focus of their research.

Yamanaka will be the leader of a newly established iPS cell research center at Kyoto University. The announcement was made on Tuesday.

Using human thigh muscle, Sawa and his research team created cell sheets last year. The heart function of a patient who was a heart transplant candidate was improved when the cell sheets were attached to an area around the heart.

Sawa hopes to turn iPS cells into cardiac muscle cells since the cell sheets do not change into cardiac muscle. He hopes to apply the new research findings to the treatment.

Sawa said, “I’d like to create new cell sheets from new materials using iPS cells, make the sheets available in many cases and enhance the sheets’ practicality.”

The planned research center will be part of the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, a world-class research institution that opened in October in Kyoto University.

Several institutions including Kyoto’s University’s Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences will help staff the center with several part-time teams of researchers. The center will also be comprised of a full-time team of 10 to 20 professors, associate professors, researchers and engineers.

The researchers are aiming to develop a safer method of creating iPS cells while sharing their research results. Studying technologies to turn iPS cells into cells for particular purposes is also on the agenda.

Yamanaka said at a press conference on Tuesday that he hoped the planned center would be a research facility open to researchers around the world covering basic to clinical medicine.

“I’d like to nurture young researchers because iPS research requires 10 to 20 years of effort,” he said.

A private incubation facility in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, will temporarily host the center in a research lab at the Kyoto Research Park.

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