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Science

Kyoto University team eyes stem cell treatment for anemia

Clinical trial will use platelets derived from iPS cells

Reprogrammed cells hold the promise of regenerating diseased or injured body parts. (Photo courtesy of Kyoto University's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application)

KYOTO (Kyodo) -- A Kyoto University team plans to begin a clinical test using platelets grown from induced pluripotent stem cells to treat Aplastic anemia, a serious disease, sources with knowledge of the plan said Sunday.

The team led by professor Koji Eto is expected to begin the clinical test after getting approval from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The university has already endorsed the plan.

Expectations are high in the field of regenerative medicine for iPS stem cells that can grow into any type of body tissue.

The world's first transplant of retinal cells grown from iPS cells into a patient has already been conducted and research is under way into the application of such cells to treat Parkinson's disease and heart failure.

So far, the team has established a method to produce high-quality platelets -- a key component of blood that can stem bleeding -- in large numbers through the use of iPS cells.

In the envisaged clinical test, the team plans to grow platelets from iPS cells from a patient. They will be injected into the patient to see the safety and effectiveness of the method, according to the sources.

Patients with Aplastic anemia are easy to bleed, get infections, and suffer from headaches as platelets and white blood cells decrease.

Patients with falling numbers of platelets are often treated with blood transfusions. But the patient in the upcoming clinical study has a special immune type and thus the use of platelets derived from the patient's own iPS cells can control rejection, the sources said.

Platelets are used in blood transfusions during surgery and to stem bleeding when people get injured.

Blood donations are one of the most useful ways to secure platelets for use in medical setting. But platelets can be used for a short period of time and ensuring stock is a challenge.

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