Stem cells made from human cells used for eye surgery

A scheme of the generation of induced pluripotent stern (iPS) cells. (1)Isolate and culture donor cells. (2)Transfect stern cell-associated genes into the cells by viral vectors. Red cells indicate the cells expressing the exogenous genes. (3)Harvest and culture the cells according to ES cell culture, using mitotically inactivated feeder cells (lightgray). (4)A small subset of the transfected cells become iPS cells and generate ES-like colonies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 70-year-old Japanese woman with a debilitating eye disease (macular degeneration) has just received the first implant of stem cells created from her own cells. Called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), these can become any type of cell in the body, obviating the moral debate about embryonic stem cells and promising to help the body just as effectively to regenerate tissue – without fear of rejection.

This pilot study that will be done with six patients and include regular monitoring for a year after each procedure. Safety testing for rejection and possible tumor formation was conducted with mice and monkeys before the human pilot.

At last, a decisive step in breaking the stem cell research field wide open.