Cardiac stem cells found
Local researchers have proven that stem cells exist in human hearts, creating the possibility that stem-cell therapy could be used to restore damaged hearts. Researchers at Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Taiwan University Hospital made the discovery while studying a heart discarded after an organ transplant. The extracted stem cells have since been cultivated in vitro and await further testing. Oscar Lee (李光申), leader of Taipei Veterans General Hospital’s stem-cell research team, said the stem cells proved effective in restoring damaged cardiac muscle cells. Lee said the findings could pave the way for stem-cell therapy for heart disease, as well as the development of a cardiac stem-cell mobilizer — a drug capable of stimulating the generation or release of stem cells in the human body. Cardiac stem cells have been found to exist in the hearts of mice and dogs, but proving their existence in the human heart has been difficult owing to the organ’s scarcity for research, Lee said.
Murder suspects arrested
Hsinchu police yesterday arrested five men on suspicion of murdering a man and attempting to dispose of the body by destroying it with vitriol. Police said the main suspect, Pan Chuan-hsi (潘傳熙), a construction contractor, suspected one of his employees, Lin Ming-chan (林明展), of stealing from his house. They said Pan asked four of his workers to join him in beating up Lin. When the five found that Lin had died as a result of the severe beating, three of the workers fled, while Pan and another worker, Hsieh Chih-neng (謝智能), put the dead body in a plastic can and attempted to decompose the body with vitriol, police said. As the body was only partly decomposed, the two hid the body in Pan’s home, hoping it would naturally decompose later, police alleged. Investigations into Lin’s disappearance led police to raid Pan’s house late on Tuesday night.
Hau appoints new deputy
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) announced yesterday the appointment of Wu Ching-chi (吳清基), commissioner of the city’s education department, as deputy mayor. Wu will take over from Samuel Wu (吳秀光), who resigned over allegations that he had accepted bribes from an arms company. Wu has denied any wrongdoing, but said he decided to step down as the reports had damaged his reputation and tarnished the image of the Taipei City Government. Hau also announced the appointment of eight other top-level officials after several municipal officials left their posts to join president-elect Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, including Taipei City Secretariat director Lee Sush-der (李述德), who will be the new finance minister.
Taitung County rattled
A magnitude 5.3 earthquake rattled Taitung County at 2:27am yesterday. No injuries were reported as of 8am, the Central Weather Bureau said. The earthquake had a depth of 10km and its epicenter was located 12.1km southwest of Taitung City, officials from the Seismology Center said. The earthquake had an intensity of 5 in Taimali Township (太麻里) in Taitung County, 3 in Sandimen (三地門) in Pingtung County and 2 in Pingtung City, Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County, the bureau said. Taitung County Fire Department officials urged residents to check their homes for plumbing damage.