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In world first, Japanese scientists to test ‘reprogrammed’ stem cells in treating Parkinson’s disease

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2018


Jun Takahashi (L), professor at Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

Scientists at Japan’s Kyoto University announced on Monday (July 30) they will be starting the world’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease using “reprogrammed” stem cells.

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

In August last year, scientists from Kyoto University, a world leader in the technology, said they had successfully used the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) to restore functioning brain cells in monkeys with symptoms of the debilitating disease.

The clinical trial for humans will start August 1, Jun Takahashi of Kyoto University said on Monday and will involve transplanting dopamine-producing neurons made by human iPS cells into the brains of people with the disease.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder resulting from a lack of dopamine-producing brain cells, which affect the human nervous system. Symptoms include tremors, body stiffness, slow movement, and difficulty walking. Currently, there are about 150,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease in Japan. — Reuters

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Japan’s PM Abe wins party vote, on track for extended term

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a ruling party leadership vote on Thursday (September 20), setting him on track to become Japan’s longest-serving premier and try to cement his legacy, including by revising the pacifist constitution.

Abe, who surged back to power in 2012 promising to reboot the economy and strengthen defense, defeated former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba in the election for Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) chief, winning 553 votes to Ishiba’s 254.

If Abe stays in office through November 2019, he will have exceeded the 2,886 days marked by Taro Katsura in the early 20th century.

Abe is assured the premiership because his LDP-led coalition controls parliament. — Reuters

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Powerful earthquake rocks Japan

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2018

A building damaged by a powerful quake in Hokkaido. Kyodo/via Reuters

A powerful 6.7 earthquake rocked the Japanese island of Hokkaido early Thursday (September 6) morning, creating cracks in the street and knocking down bottles and goods in a Sapporo grocery store.

The quake, which struck at 3:08 a.m. (1808 GMT on Wednesday) posed no tsunami risk, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said it struck some 68 km (42 miles) southeast of Sapporo, Hokkaido’s main city.

The earthquake caused a landslide in the rural town of Atsumi that engulfed houses, injuring and trapping a number of people and cutting power in several areas, local media reported. — Reuters

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Most powerful typhoon in 25 years strikes Japan

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2018


Strong waves brought by Typhoon Jebi in Japan | CCTV via REUTERS

Typhoon Jebi made landfall in the southern part of Tokushima Prefecture, Japan, at around 12:30 Tuesday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The typhoon brought torrential rain and powerful gusts of winds across western Japan, causing at least one dead.

It is said to be the most powerful typhoon in Japan in 25 years. It has moved on a northward trajectory at a speed of 45 kilometers per hour since its landing.

Affected by the typhoon, rainstorm battered the Tokushima Prefecture Tuesday morning, dumping 83 millimeters of water an hour.

JMA on Tuesday morning urged the public in seven prefectures to be vigilant against high waves, potential floods, and landslides.

More than 600 local and international flights have been canceled and Japan’s top two carriers, All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines Co. have canceled 289 and 180 flights, respectively.

The Tokaido Shinkansen and Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train lines have been suspended and parts of major highways have also been closed.

Some stores in Osaka and Kyoto prefectures and other parts of western Japan have shut down for the day.

JMA said the typhoon will pick up speed as it passes, which will then bring strong winds and heavy rains across Japan.

It is also said that Typhoon Jebi will be downgraded to an extra-tropical cyclone by Wednesday and will badly affect Tokyo. — Reuters

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