When Jianhong Zhu treated a patient with a chopstick lodged in his brain, not an uncommon injury in China, the culinary implement ultimately helped repair the damage it had caused. \nPulling out the offending object, the Harvard-trained doctor saw fresh brain tissue and decided to culture it in the laboratory and transplant it into the patient. \nIt was the start of a breakthrough in treating nerve damage and a sign that China is set to become the leader in the field of stem cell research, a field that could in the future help ailments as diverse as paralysis and incontinence. \nJianhong has treated eight brain-damaged patients with their own cells and has reported remarkable results. The results were compared with brain-damaged patients with no open wounds -- who cannot be treated this way because there is no easy way to get the brain cells -- to demonstrate that implanting the stem cells increased the movement and response of patients. \nThe results are not published in any academic journal, which normally produces scepticism about such claims. \nBut his technique amazed British scientists who visited his lab last September, as part of a UK Department of Trade and Industry (DIT) mission to learn about stem cell research in the far east. \nIn a report to be published today by the ministry, the science taking place in China, Singapore and South Korea is described as world-leading. \n"They are at, or approaching, the forefront of international stem cell research,'' the report stated. \nJianhong was to discuss his work, along with other Chinese and British scientists at a conference in London yesterday organized by the DTI. \n"During our 14-day visit to China, Singapore and South Korea, we encountered some of the best equipped laboratories, most industrious research teams and most adventurous clinical programs that any of us had ever experienced,'' wrote Jack Price of the Institute of Psychiatry, in the DTI report. \nThe analysis picked up on how Chinese scientists are keener to apply stem cell research to treating patients. A British company, ReNeuron, is one of the nearest to bringing the technique to stroke patients to treat paralysis, but trials are still about a year away. \nBritain has been a leader in the area for years, with the US hampered by the Christian right's views on using stem cells from aborted foetuses. However certain states in the US, including California, New Jersey, Illinois and Wisconsin, have now pledged billions to the area in order to catch up. \nIn Britain scientists are worried that the funding could soon dry up, after the government committed US$84.7 million over three years in 2002. Lord Sainsbury, science minister at the DTI, said on Sunday that the UK should be motivated to remain the leader in research by the progress in the East. \n"Providing funding for research remains at the top of our priorities,'' he said. \nChina has been supported by substantial grants from national and regional government, funding laboratories and luring Chinese scientists in Western labs with competitive salaries. It is now the world's third largest spender on research and development, behind the US and Japan. \nStem cell researchers in the US will reveal this week that the human embryonic cells available to most of them are contaminated and probably useless for medical treatments. \nAjit Varki, professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego, has found the cells lines are tainted with material from animal cells used to help grow them. The human body cannot make the animal molecule, called Neu5Gc, so will recognize the stem cells as foreign and trigger the immune system to attack any implanted in the body.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and