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

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.


SpaceX launch moving ahead, weather uncertain

Updated 30 May 2020

SpaceX launch moving ahead, weather uncertain

  • NASA chief Jim Bridenstine: ‘We are moving forward with launch today’

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER: SpaceX’s historic first crewed mission to the International Space Station was set to proceed as scheduled on Saturday, NASA said, although uncertainty remained over weather conditions.
“We are moving forward with launch today,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said in a tweet. “Weather challenges remain with a 50 percent chance of cancelation.”
“Proceeding with countdown today,” said SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
Weather forced the postponement on Wednesday of what would have been the first launch of American astronauts from US soil in almost a decade, and the first crewed launch ever by a commercial company.
The Falcon 9 rocket with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule is scheduled to launch at 3:22 p.m. Eastern Time (1922 GMT) on Saturday.
The next window, which is determined by the relative positions of the launch site to the space station, is Sunday at 3:00 p.m. (1900 GMT), and fair weather is predicted.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, 49, and Douglas Hurley, 53, former military test pilots who joined the space agency in 2000, are to blast off for the ISS from historic Launch Pad 39A on a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The same launch pad was used by Neil Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crewmates on their historic 1969 journey to the Moon, as NASA seeks to revive excitement around human space exploration ahead of a planned return to Earth’s satellite and then Mars.
The mission comes despite shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with the crew in quarantine for more than two weeks.
NASA has urged crowds to stay away from Cocoa Beach, the traditional viewing spot — but that did not deter many space fans on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump, who flew in for the previous launch attempt, is expected to attend again.