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Zebrafish study paves way to new treatments for Parkinson’s
Researchers found that dopamine-producing nerve cells in zebrafish are constantly being replaced by dedicated stem cells in the brain.
Species has a much higher capacity to regenerate nerve cells

New insights gained from studies into zebrafish could pave the way to new treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Writing in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists reveal how key brain cells that are damaged in people with Parkinson’s can be regenerated.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the loss of nerve cells in the brain. These nerve cells are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine.

When the cells die, the loss of dopamine can cause body movements to become slow and abnormal. Once the cells have been lost from the human brain, they cannot be replaced or repaired.

In the study, researchers found that dopamine-producing nerve cells in zebrafish are constantly being replaced by dedicated stem cells in the brain.

The researchers found the immune system plays a vital part in this process. In some parts of a zebrafish’s brain, however, the process does not work.

Understanding the immune signals that make replacement of these nerve cells could hold clues to developing treatments for humans, the scientists said.

“We were excited to find that zebrafish have a much higher regenerative capacity for dopamine neurons than humans,” said Dr Thomas Becker, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences.

“Understanding the signals that underpin regeneration of these nerve cells could be important for identifying future treatments for Parkinson’s disease.”

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Wales to ban third party puppy and kitten sales

News Story 1
 The Welsh Government has said it will ban third party sales of puppies and kittens, after a consultation showed overwhelming public support.

A consultation in February received nearly 500 responses, most of whom called for greater action to improve the welfare of cats and dogs at all breeding premises.

Concerns were also raised about online sales, impulse buying, breeder accountability and illegal puppy imports.

A consultation will now be held on plans to implement a ban. Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said she will also revisit the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions.  

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WHO declares Congo Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The move comes after a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC. The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma - a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

The committee also reinforced the need to protect the livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.