Hideyuki Otani is a rough at small human cells that can turn into many ties. Back in 2007, the professor from the Graduate College of Medicine at Tokyo’s Keio University received an award that ranked him among the world’s top stem cell researchers. Now living up to its price. Otani’s group, along with colleague Masaya Nakamura and a team of researchers, will conduct the world’s first clinical trial of a spinal cord injury therapy to help paralyzed people walk again.
Finally, this week, the Ministry of Health approved the testing of Okano’s stem cell treatment on four patients. To get underway in the summer. Each of the paraplegic subjects is injected with 200 million neural stem cells, derived from the true all-comers, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, into the severed nerve connection. In addition, test subjects receive drugs that suppress the immune response. After all, the body is not supposed to fight the small foreign cells, but to let them do their work, the growth of new nerve tracts.
At affchen it already went
The rough hope is that what the cell cocktail has already achieved in monkeys will be repeated in humans: that paraplegics will be able to walk again. The test subjects will be followed by the researchers over the course of a year in order to record not only progress but also possible side effects such as cancer.
The attempt is interesting from a medical point of view, but also from an innovation strategy point of view. Because the clinical trial is one of several that are starting up again after a few years of test sleep. Kyoto University has already launched a test, startup Healios is about to do the same. And at Keio University, there is another stem cell project that is coming to fruition. The first global stem cell clinical trial by Australian startup Cynata Therapeutics kicked things off. The company has already completed the first phase of a cure for bone marrow transplant defense reaction. And suddenly Japan had to deal with the fear that the iPS pioneer, of all people, could become a follower. "Japan tries to regain its lead in the race for stem cell therapies", wrote the business newspaper Nikkei at the time.
In fact, Japan is a powerhouse of iPS research. In 2006, Professor Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University succeeded in creating the Alleskonner. In 2012, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his invention. The extraordinarily rapid reward underscored people’s hopes of soon being able to regrow any kind of tie.
And progress was made. In 2014, the Japanese research institute Riken transplanted a generated cell layer into an eye. But after that, regulation staved off further attempts until the salutary shock from Australia. Now the financially strapped university labs and startups only have to find rough companies that will actually turn the experiments into drugs.