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Kyoto University to start providing Embryonic Stem cells for clinical studies

The move, a first for Japan, will widen applications of regenerative medicine

KYOTO, Japan -- Kyoto University said Tuesday it will start providing human embryonic stem cells by July to colleges and private companies for clinical trials. The cells, like induced pluripotent stem cells, can create various types of organs and tissues.

The move is expected to help expand ES cell studies in the country, and lead to wider application of regenerative medicine.

Kyoto University has established an environment to produce ES cells from unused fertilized eggs from infertility treatments, and provide the cells to outside parties. The prominent university has already stockpiled iPS cells and provided them to universities and research institutions in Japan.

"ES cells are a new and promising option for regenerative medicine," said associate professor Hirofumi Suemori. "By making comparison with iPS cells, the use of ES cells will help in the development of safer and more effective options in regenerative medicine treatments."

Anyone who wants to use the ES cells has to apply to Kyoto University. A single cell costs 30,000 yen ($270) for colleges and 60,000 yen for private companies. Kyoto University has already received several inquiries. The ES cells it provides will be used for clinical trials.

In Japan, the use of ES cells, which are produced from human embryos, had been limited to basic research for ethical reasons. The government in 2014 changed its guidelines, making possible the use of the cells in clinical studies for disease treatments.

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