Episode 4

AI TO ADVANCE REGENERATIVE MEDICINE

Providing custom-made treatment for each patient


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Innovation Japan

AI TO ADVANCE REGENERATIVE MEDICINE

Providing custom-made treatment for each patient

Regenerative medicine using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has been attracting attention worldwide as a way to treat illnesses once thought difficult to treat. However, there are only limited numbers of researchers with the world-leading knowledge and skill needed to produce iPS-derived cells with a high enough quality to be used in the human body. Efforts are now being launched to use artificial intelligence (AI) to accumulate experiences of researchers who handle iPS cells and standardize them. This approach has the potential to ensure quality of mass-produced transplantable cells and to facilitate their distribution to more people, leading to the delivery of custom-made regenerative treatment for each patient in need at much lower cost.

00:16

Physicians with advanced skills treat serious and intractable diseases.

Dr. Takahashi, one of the world’s leading ophthalmologists, has the skills needed to improve visual impairments that have been held by conventional wisdom to be beyond recovery.

However, the number of physicians with these special techniques and advanced skills is very limited, as is the number of patients who are fortunate enough to receive treatment at their hands.

Let’s take a look at the kind of treatment her team is working on.

00:50

Masayo Takahashi, M.D., Ph.D.
Project Leader
Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

We try to improve patients’ vision by creating special cellular sheets and transplanting them in their diseased retinas.

We prepared these sheets by growing healthy cells from iPS cells that were produced from the patients’ own cells.

The surgical procedure involves removal of the problematic cells and then transplanting the sheet of healthy cells in their place. Our goal is improved vision.

01:18

Why has this treatment not been more widely adopted?

Masayo Takahashi, M.D., Ph.D.
Project Leader
Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

It’s extremely difficult to grow high-quality cells to use for transplantation. Even on my team, we only have a few people capable of making these cells.

Cells are alive, and their state changes from one moment to the next. Moreover, the cells that we prepare must be specific for each patient’s disease.

01:45

Is there any way for researchers other than these "experienced researchers" to learn how to make these difficult-to-prepare cellular sheets?

Dr. Takahashi believes that the key lies in advanced technologies such as AI and robots.

02:02

Masayo Takahashi, M.D., Ph.D.
Project Leader
Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Robots with AI will be able to master the skills of these "experienced researchers" through a process known as deep learning, enabling them to prepare high-quality cells just like the researchers can.

What’s more, the lessons learned by one robot can be copied to other robots. We should be able to broaden adoption of this treatment by extending my team’s skills and techniques using technologies such as AI and robots.

02:28

We emphasize a patient-centric approach and treatment.
I aim to continue to offer high-quality treatment using transplantable cells that are custom-made, not only mass-produced.

An era in which Japan’s state-of-the-art regenerative medicine is embraced worldwide is fast approaching.

This video was created in collaboration with RIKEN.