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Eye on iPS

A Japanese woman has been the first to receive tissue derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, Nature News reports.

Riken Center for Developmental Biology ophthalmologist Masayo Takahashi reprogrammed skin cells from the patient into induced pluripotent stem cells and then developed the iPS cells into retinal pigment epithelium cells. Her colleagues, lead by Yasuo Kurimoto at Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, then implanted those retinal pigment epithelium cells into the woman, who has age-related macular degeneration.

While Nature notes that the procedure likely won't restore the woman's vision, researchers will be examining whether the procedure — which the Riken team had tested in animals and for which it recently received human trial clearance — prevents further deterioration and if it leads to any side effects like an immune reaction or cancerous growth.

"We've taken a momentous first step toward regenerative medicine using iPS cells," Takahashi says in a statement, according to Nature News. "With this as a starting point, I definitely want to bring [iPS cell-based regenerative medicine] to as many people as possible."