To make sure that novel human cell-based products contribute to human health care, it is essential that, based on sound science at present, suitable measures be taken by the manufacturers and regulatory authorities on applying these products to the treatment of patients by taking into account specificity of starting cell lines, the manufacturing process, products, administration procedures, diseases in question, and patient population. As part of such an endeavor, we studied scientific principles, concepts, and basic technical elements to ensure the quality and safety of therapeutic products derived from autologous human somatic stem cells, taking into consideration scientific and technological advances, ethics, regulatory rationale, and international trends in human stem cell-derived products. This led to the development of the Japanese official Notification No. 0907-2, “Guideline on Ensuring the Quality and Safety of Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Derived from the Processing of Autologous Human Somatic Stem Cells,” issued by Pharmaceuticals and Food Safety Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan on September 7, 2012. The present paper describes the background information and the development of our study and the resulting guidance. For products derived from autologous somatic stem cells, major points to consider include 1) multipotency and self-replication ability of autologous human somatic stem cells and differences in cell characteristics of the final products from those of the starting cells; 2) a donor's infectious status; 3) the risk of proliferation/reactivation of viruses during the manufacturing processes; 4) robust process control to minimize unevenness of “custom-made” products; 5) a limited amount of samples for quality evaluation of products; and 6) robust application and function of the final products in a cell environment different from where the original cells were localized and were performing their natural endogenous functions. The ultimate goal of this guidance is to provide suitable medical opportunities as soon as possible to the patients.
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