Finally, all these years of expensive research put to use

Grafts derived from stem cells could keep the retina in good working order (Image: Science Source/Science Photo Library)
Grafts derived from stem cells could keep the retina in good working order (Image: Science Source/Science Photo Library)

Recently, stem cells have been used for medical treatment successfully. In Japan, a woman received the first medical treatment based on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). After eight years of their discovery, iPSCs have been used for treatment.

The woman’s skin cells were harvested from her arm and these were reprogrammed into specialized eye cells to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that affects millions of elderly people worldwide, and often results in blindness. Last week, the woman, in her 70s, had a patch of the cells measuring 1.3 by 3 mm grafted into her eye in a two-hour operation. She is the first of six people lined up for the landmark treatment, developed by Masayo Takahashi and her colleagues at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan.

In a pilot study to test the safety of putting iPS-derived cells into humans, the six are all receiving a graft of new retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, which serve to maintain the eye’s light-sensing cells.

Source: The above story is based on materials provided here.

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (; -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo ( and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.