In Kyoto and Osaka, Japan, there has started a campaign to collect blood from volunteer donors for creating the world’s first national stem cell bank of non-embryonic origin.
This campaign involves the Japanese Red Cross and the Center for iPS Cells Research and Application at Kyoto University led by the Professor Shinya Yamanaka who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 2012. He has developed technologies that allow – under certain influence – to form healthy cells of various organs from stem cells of non-embrionic origin. This opens up real prospects for growth of tissues or even whole organs to replace the lost or disease-affected ones.
However, the essential problem is to overcome the rejection. It is impossible to collect stem cells of all the Japanese people. It was therefore decided to use special types of blood cells that are not rejected. According to the researchers, only a few percent of the population have such biological material. It was therefore decided to start looking for suitable people among blood donors.
In five years, the researchers expect to accumulate the material suitable for 30-50% of the population. In ten years, the bank has to collect the cells of 90% of Japanese people.