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Japan keeps edge in stem-cell medicine with heart study

Homegrown iPS technology gives the nation a leg up in regenerative therapies

Induced pluripotent stem cells have the potential to treat diseases that standard therapies cannot handle. (Courtesy of Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University)

TOKYO/OSAKA -- Japan's decision on Wednesday to greenlight a study using stem cells for treating heart failure shows how far the field has progressed in the decade since the cells were first developed.

The health ministry approved Osaka University's clinical trial to test induced pluripotent cells in cases of ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart is weakened by a reduced supply of blood. iPS technology reprograms mature cells to become stem cells that can then be used in a variety of regenerative treatments. 

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