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Japan hurries to regain lead in race for stem cell therapies

Australian startup closer to commercializing iPS-based treatment

An iPS cell lab at Kyoto University. These type of stem cells can be generated from adult cells, which means they are not subject to the same ethical dilemmas that come with embryonic cells. (Photo by Wataru Ito)

TOKYO -- Japan is scrambling to commercialize a treatment using induced pluripotent stem cells, hoping to mount a comeback in a field it pioneered.

Australian startup Cynata Therapeutics took the world by storm last month by announcing that it has successfully tested the safety and efficacy of a treatment based on induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells. This marked the first such company-led clinical trials. Those "master" cells have the ability to become any other cell type in the body.

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