Japan team transplants stem cells into brain to treat Parkinson’s

Induced Pluripotent Stem cells are created by stimulating mature, already specialized, cells back into a juvenile state. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Japan team transplants stem cells into brain to treat Parkinson’s

  • The research team at Kyoto University injected induced Pluripotent Stem cells into the brain of a male patient in his fifties
  • Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects the body’s motor system

TOKYO: Japanese researchers said Friday they have transplanted stem cells into the brain of a patient in the first stage of an innovative trial to cure Parkinson’s disease.
The research team at Kyoto University injected induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells — which have the potential to develop into any cell in the body — into the brain of a male patient in his fifties, the university said in a press release.
The man was stable after the operation, which was performed last month, and he will now be monitored for two years, the university added.
The researchers injected 2.4 million iPS cells into the left side of the patient’s brain, in an operation that took about three hours.
If no problems are observed in the coming six months, they will implant another 2.4 million cells into the right side.
The iPS cells from healthy donors have been developed into the precursors of dopamine-producing brain cells, which are no longer present in people with Parkinson’s disease.
The operation came after the university announced in July they would carry out the trial with seven participants aged between 50 and 69.
It is the first involving implanting stem cells into the brain to cure Parkinson’s.
“I appreciate the patients for participating in the trial with courage and determination,” Kyoto University professor Jun Takahashi told reporters on Friday, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects the body’s motor system, often causing shaking and other difficulties in movement.
Worldwide, about 10 million people have the illness, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.
Currently available therapies “improve symptoms without slowing or halting the disease progression,” the foundation says.
The human trial comes after an earlier trial involving monkeys.
Researchers announced last year that primates with Parkinson’s symptoms regained significant mobility after iPS cells were inserted into their brains.
They also confirmed that the iPS cells had not transformed into tumors during the two years after the implant.
iPS cells are created by stimulating mature, already specialized, cells back into a juvenile state — basically cloning without the need for an embryo.
The cells can be transformed into a range of different types of cells, and their use is a key sector of medical research.


Crater bigger than Paris is discovered under Greenland ice

Videographic looking at the importance of ice shelves. A study shows that Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will continue to shrink this century, even if warming is limited to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Crater bigger than Paris is discovered under Greenland ice

  • The discovery was initially made in the 2015 but an international team of researchers has been working to verify the findings ever since
  • There would have been debris projected into the atmosphere that would affect the climate and the potential for melting a lot of ice

TAMPA: A massive iron meteorite smashed into Greenland as recently as 12,000 years ago, leaving a crater bigger than Paris that was recently discovered beneath the ice with sophisticated radar, researchers said Wednesday.
The crater is the first of its kind ever found on Greenland — or under any of the Earth’s ice sheets — and is among the 25 largest known on Earth, said the report in the journal Science Advances.
The impact of the 19-mile (31 kilometers) wide crater under the Hiawatha Glacier would have had significant ripple effects in the region, possible even globally, researchers said.
But its story is just beginning to be told.
“There would have been debris projected into the atmosphere that would affect the climate and the potential for melting a lot of ice, so there could have been a sudden freshwater influx into the Nares Strait between Canada and Greenland that would have affected the ocean flow in that whole region,” said co-author John Paden, courtesy associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Kansas University.
“The evidence indicates that the impact probably happened after the Greenland Ice Sheet formed, but the research team is still working on the precise dating.”
The discovery was initially made in the 2015 but an international team of researchers has been working to verify the findings ever since.
The initial finding was made with data from NASA’s Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment and Operation IceBridge.
More data was collected since then, using more advanced radar technology.
“So far, it has not been possible to date the crater directly, but its condition strongly suggests that it formed after ice began to cover Greenland, so younger than three million years old and possibly as recently as 12,000 years ago — toward the end of the last ice age” said co-author professor Kurt Kjaer from the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
Researchers plan to try and recover material that melted from the bottom of the glacier to learn more about its timing and effects on life on Earth at the time.