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Scientists find nerve cells that help patients walk after paralysis

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Scientists find nerve cells that help patients walk after paralysis

 Scientists on Wednesday said they had identified a group of nerve cells that help patients with paralysis stand and walk again.

These nerve cells or neurons called Vsx2, are present in the brain stem and the spinal cord and have been found to play a key role in the recovery of motor function after spinal cord injury.

The researchers from Switzerland hailed their findings, published in the journal – Nature, as a “clinical breakthrough.”

The Study author, Jordan Squair, who focuses on regenerative therapies at Neurorestore, a centre set up by scientists in Switzerland to develop new neurosurgical treatments, said: “This paves the way to more targeted treatments for paralysed patients.

“We can now aim to manipulate these neurons to regenerate the spinal cord.”

As part of the clinical trial, the scientists recruited nine participants with severe or complete paralysis caused by spinal cord injury.

The patients received epidural electrical stimulation (EES) treatment, an experimental therapy that helps those regain movement and control that had been lost.

The EES treatment involves implanting a small device over the protective coating of the spinal cord.

The researchers found all patients quickly regained or improved their ability to walk during the treatment and showed improvements in mobility after five months of treatment and rehabilitation.

The authors performed a set of experiments in mice to pinpoint the neurons associated with standing and walking after paralysis.

They found out that the Vsx2 neurons, a subset of a class of neurons called V2a to be linked with restored walking after paralysis.

When deactivating these neurons in mice with spinal cord injury, the creatures stopped walking.

But when the same experiment was done on healthy mice, it had no effect.

According to the researchers, this suggests that the Vsx2 neurons play a crucial role in the recovery of motor function after spinal cord injury, although these neurons aren’t necessary for walking in healthy mice.

– dpa

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Palestine ends security coordination with Israel after deadly raid in West Bank

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Palestine ends security coordination with Israel after deadly raid in West Bank

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced the end of security coordination with Israel in response to the killing of nine Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman of the Palestinian presidency, said in a press statement.

“In the light of the repeated aggression against our people and the undermining of signed agreements, we consider that security coordination with the Israeli occupation government no longer exists as of now.”

The decision came after an emergency meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee, the Fatah Central Committee, and the Palestinian government.

The meeting was chaired by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Earlier, the Israeli army force stormed the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank and killed nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, and wounded 16, four of them in serious condition.

Abu Rudeineh called on the Palestinian factions for more peaceful popular resistance “to protect the Palestinians and their capabilities in the face of settler terrorism and the Israeli occupation forces.”

The Palestinian leadership has decided to immediately turn to the UN Security Council for international protection for the Palestinian people under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to stop unilateral measures, he said.

The Palestinian leadership will also go urgently to the International Criminal Court to add “the file of the massacre committed by Israeli forces in Jenin on Thursday to the files previously submitted to the court,” the spokesman added.

Security coordination between Israel and the PA was brought on by the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO in the 1990s.

 The establishment of the PA itself was also an outcome of the Oslo Accords.

More than 170 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank in 2022, and at least 29 have been killed in January this year, according to figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry.

According to a statement by the United Nations, 2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2006.

The tensions had been further aggravated since Israel’s most right-wing government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, took office last month. 

Xinhua

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S. Korea’s childbirths hit record low in Nov.

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S. Korea’s childbirths hit record low in Nov.

 The number of babies born in South Korea has reached yet another record low in November, data showed on Thursday, reflecting the country’s dire population crisis.

A total of 18,982 babies were born in November, plunging 4.3 percent from the previous year, according to data from Statistics Korea.

This, the data said, marked the lowest number for any November since the statistics agency started compiling related data in 1981.

South Korea remains dogged by a chronic decline in childbirths as many young people delay or give up on having babies in the face of an economic slowdown and high home prices.

However, between the periods of January and November, a total number of 231,863 babies were born, down 4.7 percent from a year earlier.

Its total fertility rate, the average number of children a woman bears in her life-time came to just 0.79 in the third quarter, the data showed.

In 2021, it stood at 0.81, marking the fourth straight year to hover below one. It was much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 which would keep South Korea’s population stable at 51.5 million.

South Korea, which first reported more deaths than births in 2020, is also widely expected to maintain the trend for the third consecutive year in 2022.

Over the January-November period, South Korea had 107,004 more deaths.

The number of deaths came to 30,107 in November, up to 6.1 percent from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the data showed that the number of marriages rose to 2.2 percent on-year to 17,458 in November as more people tied the knot following the ease of  COVID-19 regulations.

Divorces fell by 3.1 percent on-year to 8,498 in the month.

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Zelensky repeats his rejection of negotiations with Putin

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Zelensky repeats his rejection of negotiations with Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has reiterated his rejection of negotiations with Russia before a withdrawal of Russian troops.

“Talks would only be possible if Russia withdraws its soldiers, admits its mistake and there is a new government in Moscow,’’ Zelensky said on Thursday.

“ Only then would talks be possible,’’ he said.

The president had already banned negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin by decree at the end of September 2022.

Zelensky stressed that a meeting with Putin made no sense. “It is not interesting for me. Not interesting to meet, not interesting to speak,” he said.

“They don’t want talks, and that was the case even before the invasion. President Putin decided so.”

He said he was convinced that Ukraine was only the first step for Putin.

“Before the war, there were meetings with Putin.

“I saw a man who said one thing and then did another,” Zelensky said.

“Who is he now? After a full-scale invasion, for me, he is a nobody.” 

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