A 70-year-old Japanese woman has become the first recipient to receive stem cells that are derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. This technology will later be able to offer regenerative possibilities for embryo-derived cells. This advancement will be able to offer us these possibilities without any safety concerns. The procedure took place at the Institute of Biomedical Research and Innovation Hospital. This was next to where ophthalmologist Masayo Takahashi had produced and tested the cells at RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology.


Despite the progress we have made in medicine, there are some times when treatments are unable to help the patients who really need a palliative course for their illness, especially with the older generation. This means that there is only a small amount of ways to treat injuries and diseases which is by providing medications or devices to help tolerate their symptoms.


By introducing regenerative medicine, it gives us the possibility of successfully healing damaged tissues and organs. It offers hope and resolutions to those patients who are suffering from conditions that were never mended. In spite of this new advancement, regenerative medicine is not new. The first solid-organ and bone marrow transplant occurred over 40 years ago. This opportunity was unlocked by the growth of several fields that were able to improve existing regenerative treatments and they helped produce innovative ones.


After the health-committee gave Takahashi approval to proceed with human trials, Yasuo Kurimoto, an eye specialist from Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, was able to perform the treatment. Kurimoto led the procedure with the team of three other specialists.


The two hour surgery only took four days on the 70-year-old patient. Kurimoto was able to become the first eye specialist to perform this procedure in history. The objective was to transplant a 1.3 by 3.0 millimeter sheet of retinal pigment epithelium cells into the patient’s eye. The cause of the erosion from the eye was the result of old age for the patient. When the surgery was over, Kurimoto released a statement by RIKEN about the patient. “She took on all the risk that goes with the treatment as well as the surgery. I have deep respect for bravery she showed in resolving to go through with it.”


Kurimoto also recognized a researcher who recently committed suicide named Yoshiki Sasai. Sasai was an important part of the stem cell research that took place. He was a deputy director at the RIKEN center in Kobe. “This project could not have existed without the late Yoshiki Sasai’s research, which led the way to differentiating retinal tissue from stem cells.” As a result of his work, the team was able to help produce this astonishing result that has helped their first patient. Although Sasai is not alive today, his work is alive because of him. It will continue producing phenomenal results and helping millions of people to come.


What are your thoughts on the advances in the stem cell research? Feel free to share your insights via the comment section, or tweet me @tanya_ariel02.