Regenerative medicine is an advanced medical technology based on the transplantation of cells to help reconstruct damaged tissues and organs. Traditional approaches to drug development for diseases in which pathogenesis has caused a target cell type to no longer be available have proved difficult. Regenerative medicine on the other hand, enables certain cells to potentially be used to treat the disease. Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have received particular attention for their potential to differentiate into all cell types found in the human body, thereby allowing for infinite opportunities in this field.
In light of this development, KAN researchers have been making efforts to develop new technologies that could realize iPS cell–based medicine. Our team is focused on the development of technologies that can efficiently differentiate iPS cells into desired cell types as well as facilitate cell purification using cell surface markers. We have also successfully established a purification method for mesencephalic dopaminergic progenitor cells, which are effective as materials for transplantation therapy in Parkinson’s disease, and identified a marker for multipotent pancreatic progenitor cells that may be useful in the treatment of type I diabetes. Currently, we are working to promote research of these and other technologies with the aim of establishing them as regenerative therapies.