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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012

Nobel winner Yamanaka's priority goal: 'iPS Stock'


KYOTO — Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka, a winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, is calling for the creation of a "bank" to hold induced pluripotent stem cells that can be drawn on to treat diseases.

In an interview Monday, Yamanaka stressed the urgency of creating this system, called "iPS Stock," to store many iPS cell lines for therapeutic use.

"I guess the first (cell line) may be created early next year," Yamanaka said after winning the Nobel for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed into stem cells capable of developing into any type of tissue.

In the iPS Stock project, Yamanaka plans to derive the cell lines from people with a special white blood cell type that is far less likely to lead to transplant rejection.

Yamanaka said cells from a single donor would produce enough iPS cells for about 20 percent of the Japanese population.

After expressing thanks for the government assistance he has received, Yamanaka noted most of the 200 staff members at Kyoto University's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, or CiRA, are paid from short-term research funds.

"It takes 10 to 20 years to put new technologies into practical use," Yamanaka said, calling for a framework that would allow the government to provide long-term support for research projects whose achievements would be reviewed every five years.

The government decided to provide five years of subsidies to Yamanaka's projects upon his creation of human iPS cells in 2007.

The subsidy program will expire soon unless it is extended. In 2006, Yamanaka made the world's first iPS cells from mouse cells.

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