IPS-derived corneal cell transplants prove safe, effective

SUITA, Osaka (Jiji Press) — A Japanese research team Monday said it has confirmed that transplants of corneal cells created from induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells are safe and effective.

The team, which carried out the world’s first transplant of iPS-derived corneal cells, announced the completion of its clinical research on four transplanted patients.

At a news conference in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, the team, including Osaka University Prof. Koji Nishida, said it aims to start a clinical trial of the treatment next year and put it into practical use within four years after that.

In the clinical research, iPS-derived corneal cells were transplanted into patients suffering from corneal epithelial stem cell deficiency. The disease causes corneas to become cloudy, possibly making patients blind.

The team created sheets of corneal cells derived from iPS cells from other people. The sheets, 3.5 centimeters in diameter and 0.03 to 0.05 millimeters thick, were transplanted into four people in their 30s to 70s.