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iPS cell stockpiling project

The Kyoto University Center for iPS Cell Research and Application in Japan started iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) for stockpiling in regenerative medicine and clinical research in 2013. This project is being led by the center’s director, Shinya Yamanaka, an iPS cell developer and Nobel Prize winner, to build a stock of specific iPS cells with a lower risk of immune rejection.

Like embryonic stem cells, iPS cells can grow into any type of human tissue to regenerate organs. They are said to be rejection-free if made from recipient patients’ own cells, but the process is time-consuming and expensive.

Under this project, the iPS cells are created from healthy donors with homozygous HLA (human leukocyle antigen) people with white blood cells containing a rare antigen that helps reduce the risk of immune rejection. HLA is the major histocompatibility complex in human bodies that makes it possible to distinguish between self-cells and non-self cells. In cell or organ transplantation, if the donor’s HLA types are different from those of the recipient, the recipient’s body recognizes the donor’s cells or organ as an invader, which leads to immune rejection. It is said that Japanese who has “homozygous HLA” is one out of several hundreds. The cells collected are assessed for quality from various aspects before being frozen for stockpiling.

The aim of the stock is to hold iPS cells of guaranteed quality which can be supplied quickly to medical care institutions and research institutions in Japan and Overseas for clinical research on regenerative medicine using iPS cells.

In cooperation with other organizations, including Kyoto University Hospital and the Japanese Red Cross Society, the center is looking for “homozygous HLA” blood donors to help with the iPS cell stock project, the center official said. (Floro Mercene)