Jun 17, 2017

Scientists again try cell transplants to treat Parkinson’s disease

Chitose Suzuki / AP

Researchers stopped treating Parkinson's Disease with brain cell transplants 14 years ago because it was largely unsuccessful and, in some cases, yielded negative side effects, like increased involuntary movement. But now they're giving an updated version of the transplant method another try, per NPR.

How it works: Parkinson's destroys cells that produce dopamine, which signals the brain's motor pathways to control how we move. Now, scientists are transplanting dopamine-producing cells into patients' brains to replace the ones that the disease destroyed. With new cells in place, the brain can control movement once again.

What's different: In the past, researchers lifted stem cells from aborted fetuses, and the samples they took contained dopamine-producing cells among several other types of cells. Viviane Tabar, a stem cell biologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told NPR those extraneous cells may have caused the negative side effects. But scientists have spent the past several years figuring out how to fix this problem: they've developed a method of picking out just dopamine-producing cells from a larger stem cell sample.

Why it matters: While existing Parkinson's drugs supplement dopamine, their effectiveness can wane over time. Replacing the producer cells themselves could yield a much stronger treatment. By isolating dopamine cells, scientists can now conduct pure transplants without worrying about side effects of other cells.

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Sanders requests recount of Iowa recanvass after results show shrunken margin

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a statement Tuesday night he will request a recount of the Iowa Democratic Party's recanvass results.

Where it stands: Both Buttigieg and Sanders requested partial recanvasses in Iowa last week after results were delayed and showed several errors following a software malfunction on caucus night.

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Energy deputy secretary nominee faces heat after contradicting Trump

Mark Menezes speaks at a forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 12. Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Trump administration officials are internally raising concerns about President Trump’s nominee for Energy deputy secretary, who appeared to openly contradict the president on nuclear waste storage at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain last week.

Driving the news: While speaking at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing last Wednesday, Mark Menezes told members of the panel that the Trump administration is still interested in storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain and that “what we're trying to do is to put together a process that will give us a path to permanent storage at Yucca."