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Volume 582 Issue 7813, 25 June 2020

Gain of function

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. A cure for the condition remains elusive, and current treatments focus on relieving the symptoms. In this week’s issue, Xiang-Dong Fu and his co-workers report a way to generate new neurons to replace those lost to the disease. By depleting the levels of an RNA-binding protein called PTB, the researchers have established a single-step method that can efficiently convert astrocytes into functional neurons in live mice. The new neurons reversed the loss of dopamine and restored some motor function in a mouse model of the disease. The technique also works with human cells in vitro, suggesting that it offers a possible route to treatments for neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s.

Cover image: Lantao Gou

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  • How China’s history in medical robotics research has lightened the load on its healthcare system, and helped the country cope during the coronavirus pandemic.

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