Kyoto University said Wednesday it has asked for government approval to conduct a clinical trial of transplanting cartilage made from induced pluripotent stem cells to treat damaged knee joints.

Under the plan, a team led by Noriyuki Tsumaki, professor at the university specializing in cell induction and regulation, will culture iPS cells to create cartilage tissue and transplant them to knees. The university said it submitted the plan to the health ministry on Nov. 7 for a review by its special panel.

(Cartilage tissue created fom human iPS cells.)[Courtesy of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University]

The team has already tested the treatment on a rat and found it to be effective. It has also confirmed the treatment carries low risk of rejection, fibrosis reaction or cancerization, it said.

The plan, including its safety, was approved in October by a board set up at the university.

The new treatment is hoped to help treat patients with damaged or degenerated cartilage due to injuries and illnesses.

Cartilage tissue covers joint bones and absorbs shock. A joint cannot move smoothly if part of the cartilage tissue is damaged due to injury or if it turns fibrous due to aging.

While there is a treatment in which normal cartilage tissue is transplanted, it is hard to secure enough tissue and part of the tissue tends to turn fibrous.