Kyoto University performs world's first iPS cell transplant for Parkinson's

The Japan Times

KYOTO – Kyoto University said Friday it has conducted the world's first transplant of induced pluripotent stem cells to treat Parkinson's disease. Nerve cells created from the artificially derived stem cells, known as iPS cells, were transplanted into the brain of a patient in his 50s in October in a treatment researchers hope to develop into a method that can be covered under Japan's health insurance system. "By also cooperating with companies, we want to develop a mass production system that enables us to deliver nerve cells derived from iPS cells to all over the world," said Jun Takahashi, a professor at the university's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application who led the research team, at a news conference. Parkinson's disease reduces dopamine-producing neurons in the brain and results in tremors in the hands and feet and stiffness in the body. While there are treatments to relieve the symptoms, there is currently no cure for the disease.


Has the war on drugs failed? U.N. session will examine alternatives

Los Angeles Times

At what is being billed as the most significant high-level gathering on global drug policy in two decades, the stage will be set for world leaders to discuss what would have once been unthinkable -- reversing course in the war on drugs. The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, which begins Tuesday in New York, will bring together government, human rights and health leaders to discuss whether the hard-line tactics of combating drug trafficking and money laundering have failed. It will also provide a forum for reformists and government leaders who are pushing for turning the current drug policy on its head by halting drug-related incarcerations, treating drug abuse as a health issue rather than a crime and even legalizing drugs. "The drug control regime that emerged during the last century has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights," reads a statement to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that was signed last week by more than 1,000 world leaders, activists and celebrities. The letter urges a complete rethinking of the conventional war on drugs.


Merck Alzheimer's Drug Fails in 1 Study; Another Continues

U.S. News

While a few treatments temporarily ease symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and agitation, dozens of drugs tested have failed to slow mental decline or halt the mind-robbing disease, including the one Eli Lilly & Co. scrapped in November.


Genital herpes early in pregnancy doubles autism risk, study finds

The Japan Times

MIAMI – Women who are infected with genital herpes early in their pregnancy may face twice the risk of bearing a child with autism, a team of U.S. and Norwegian researchers said Wednesday. The report in mSphere, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology journal, is the first to show that a woman's immune response could have a harmful effect on the developing fetus's brain and influence the likelihood of autism. "We believe the mother's immune response to herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) could be disrupting fetal central nervous system development, raising risk for autism," said lead author Milada Mahic, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The causes of autism spectrum disorder remain poorly understood, and researchers believe it arises from some combination of genetic and environmental influences. As many as 1 in 68 U.S. children suffer from autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that can impair social and communication skills.


Cure For Dementia? Umbilical Cord Blood Revitalizes Brain Function, Study Finds

International Business Times

It turns out the young have something else the elderly do not after a scientific finding, which sounds like something out of a vampire fable, was published by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine. The research, which was first published in Nature Wednesday, revealed that a protein found in umbilical cord blood from human newborns is a protein that disappears as we grow older. Researchers revealed that injecting cord blood into older mice could actually help to restore brain function. The study's findings were taken from trials with mice and revealed that the plasma of younger mice had neurological benefits on older mice, who were said to have performed better on memory tests and learning tests. "Neuroscientists have ignored it and are still ignoring it, but to me it's remarkable that something in your blood can influence the way you think," Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences and the study's senior author, said.