May 8, 2018 Dr. Biswarup Ghosh, PhD

First stem cell treatment, approved in Japan recently, developed by a joint venture between a biotech company named Nature Cell and the Biostar Stem Cell Research Institute in South Korea. This treatment is to treat mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. AD is characterized by neuronal loss, cognitive dysfunction and loss of memory. They received approval on 11th April, 2018 from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) following evaluation from the Kyushu Certified Special Committee for Regenerative Medicine in AD. This allows them officially to begin stem cell treatment. Biostar will support Alzheimer’s patients from all over the world to restore their memory. According to the media, around 80 patients already booked for the treatment initially following approval.

Trinity Clinic Fukuoka, a partner hospital in Japan, started the first stem cell treatment to three Korean Alzheimer’s patients to measure the safety and effectiveness of adipose tissue -derived mesenchymal stem cells (ATMSCs). The patients were administered with 200 million cells 10 times in every two weeks. The investigators administered autologous adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells intravenously. Moreover, the safety of intravenous infusion techniques has been established in multiple clinical trials. Dr. Ra (CEO of RNL Bio) developed this technology to purify stem cells from fat tissue and grow them in culture. The research team led by Dr. Ra has demonstrated in many journals that stem cells isolated from patient’s own tissue can be used for therapeutic intervention in diseases. His research team showed previously the effectiveness of ATMSCs in animal model of AD.

Major sources of human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) . The sources can be distinguished between adult tissues, preferably bone marrow (BM), peripheral blood (PB) and adipose tissue (AT) and neonatal birth-associated tissues including placenta (PL), umbilical cord (UC) and cord blood (CB). This figure is a typical representation to understand the sources of MSC. Image credit: Cell Commun Signal, 2011
In general, ATMSCs are becoming increasingly popular for use in regenerative cell therapy because minimally invasive techniques are used. ATMSCs are capable of passing the blood-brain barrier. They populate in the entire central nervous system by differentiating mainly in microglial cells. Previously, researchers found that these migrated stem cells can play a neuroprotective role in AD model. They reported that these cells attenuate amyloid β-induced damage and inhibit neuronal cell death. Reduction of amyloid β disposition was also shown in earlier research.