Lab-Grown Minibrains Show Activity Similar to Babies’ Brains

By Shelly Fan – Re-Blogged From Singularity Hub

Neurons are a collective bunch. Although each neuron receives, processes, and passes on information individually, the electrical spikes only make sense when melded together in waves of oscillating activity. Like an orchestra, the notes played from each neuron matter. But only when they synchronize in specific ways do single notes transform into the music of thought, memories, and actions.

By studying animals, scientists have long known that even extremely young brains—say, those still in the mother’s womb—gradually generate neural oscillations as they mature. Genetic mutations that disrupt this synchronicity causes the melody to falter, leading to neurodevelopmental problems including autism, epilepsy, or schizophrenia. Yet those ideas remain educated guesses, mostly because it’s impossible to monitor a developing human fetus’s brain.

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Stem Cell Transplant Helps Some With MS

By Health Day – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

A stem cell transplant may help some people with multiple sclerosis when standard drugs fail, a new clinical trial finds.

The study focused on 110 patients with aggressive cases of MS: Their symptoms had flared up at least twice in the past year despite taking standard medication, and they’d already tried an average of three of those drugs.

Researchers randomly assigned the patients to either keep trying other medications or have a stem cell transplant — using cells taken from their own blood.

Over an average of three years, MS progressed in 34 of 55 patients on medication — meaning their disabilities worsened. That compared with only three of 55 patients given a stem cell transplant.

Japan Scientists to Use ‘Reprogrammed’ Stem Cells to Fight Parkinson’s

By Thomson Reuters – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

TOKYO – Japanese scientists said Monday they will start clinical trials next month on a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, transplanting “reprogrammed” stem cells into brains, seeking a breakthrough in treating the neurodegenerative disorder.

Parkinson’s is caused by a lack of dopamine made by brain cells and researchers have long hoped to use stem cells to restore normal production of the neurotransmitter chemical.

Japan Scientists to Use ‘Reprogrammed’ Stem Cells to Fight Parkinson’s

By Thomson Reuters – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

TOKYO – Japanese scientists said Monday they will start clinical trials next month on a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, transplanting “reprogrammed” stem cells into brains, seeking a breakthrough in treating the neurodegenerative disorder.

Parkinson’s is caused by a lack of dopamine made by brain cells and researchers have long hoped to use stem cells to restore normal production of the neurotransmitter chemical.

Pet Cloning is Bringing Human Cloning a Little Bit Closer

By Antonio Regalado – Re-Blogged From MIT Technology Review

When Barbra Streisand revealed to Variety magazine that she’d had her dog cloned for $50,000, many people learned for the first time that copying pets and other animals is a real business.

That’s right: you can pay to clone a dog, a horse, or a top beef bull and get a living copy back in a matter of months.

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Trials For Potential ALS Treatment

By Jonathan Saltzman – Re-Blogged From Boston Globe

As an engineering professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, Richard P. Vinci has run plenty of experiments. He specializes in figuring out what makes materials break, everything from computer chips to microneedles that deliver medicine.

But now the 51-year-old graduate of MIT and Stanford University is the subject of a study himself, one he hopes might save, or at least extend, his life. Vinci, a Reading native, was diagnosed 18 months ago with ALS, the deadly disease that ravages the nervous system and gradually robs patients of the ability to speak, eat, and, finally, breathe.

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