Kyoto University to supply iPS cells from COVID-19 survivors for research

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Kyoto University’s CiRA Foundation said Thursday it will provide induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells created from the blood of people who recovered from COVID-19 to research institutions both in Japan and abroad free of charge.

The aim of the initiative is to help researchers identify why some people develop severe symptoms of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, said the Kyoto-based foundation.

Six people who recovered from severe, moderate or mild COVID-19 symptoms have given consent to the production of iPS cells from their blood and the supply of the cells, according to the foundation, linked to the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, or CiRA.

Blood was collected from them between June and September last year. The quality of iPS cells derived from three of the six has already been confirmed, and the foundation began accepting applications for the supply of the cells on Thursday.

Scientists have cited underlying diseases and hereditary factors as causes of severe COVID-19 symptoms.

The foundation said that it wants institutions receiving the supply of the iPS cells to use them to uncover the mechanism causing severe COVID-19 symptoms by converting the cells into lung and blood vessel cells, and infecting them with the virus.

“We have confirmed that cells created from the iPS cells are well infected with the novel coronavirus,” Shinya Yamanaka, head of the foundation, said. “We hope that many researchers will utilize the cells to help bring the coronavirus under control,” he added.

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