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Prostate Cancer Treatments Are Racing Ahead. Here’s a Big Reason Why.

Prostate Cancer Treatments Are Racing Ahead. Here’s a Big Reason Why.

Dr. Stacy Loeb (left) and Dr. Heather Cheng were both recipients of a special early-career grant from the Prostate Cancer Foundation for young researchers.

(Photos courtesy of Loeb and Cheng)


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Kira Peikoff

Kira Peikoff was the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org from 2017 to 2021. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Nautilus, Popular Mechanics, The New York Academy of Sciences, and other outlets. She is also the author of four suspense novels that explore controversial issues arising from scientific innovation: Living Proof, No Time to Die, Die Again Tomorrow, and Mother Knows Best. Peikoff holds a B.A. in Journalism from New York University and an M.S. in Bioethics from Columbia University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two young sons. Follow her on Twitter @KiraPeikoff.

A newly discovered brain cell may lead to new treatments for cognitive disorders

Swiss researchers have found a type of brain cell that appears to be a hybrid of the two other main types — and it could lead to new treatments for brain disorders.

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Swiss researchers have discovered a third type of brain cell that appears to be a hybrid of the two other primary types — and it could lead to new treatments for many brain disorders.

The challenge: Most of the cells in the brain are either neurons or glial cells. While neurons use electrical and chemical signals to send messages to one another across small gaps called synapses, glial cells exist to support and protect neurons.

Astrocytes are a type of glial cell found near synapses. This close proximity to the place where brain signals are sent and received has led researchers to suspect that astrocytes might play an active role in the transmission of information inside the brain — a.k.a. “neurotransmission” — but no one has been able to prove the theory.


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Kristin Houser
Kristin Houser is a staff writer at Freethink, where she covers science and tech. Her written work has appeared in Business Insider, NBC News, and the World Economic Forum’s Agenda, among other publications, and Stephen Colbert once talked about a piece on The Late Show, to her delight. Formerly, Kristin was a staff writer for Futurism and wrote several animated and live action web series.
Scientists implant brain cells to counter Parkinson's disease

In a recent research trial, patients with Parkinson's disease reported that their symptoms had improved after stem cells were implanted into their brains. Martin Taylor, far right, was diagnosed at age 32.

Martin Taylor

Martin Taylor was only 32 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's, a disease that causes tremors, stiff muscles and slow physical movement - symptoms that steadily get worse as time goes on.

“It's horrible having Parkinson's,” says Taylor, a data analyst, now 41. “It limits my ability to be the dad and husband that I want to be in many cruel and debilitating ways.”

Today, more than 10 million people worldwide live with Parkinson's. Most are diagnosed when they're considerably older than Taylor, after age 60. Although recent research has called into question certain aspects of the disease’s origins, Parkinson’s eventually kills the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine, a signaling chemical that carries messages around the body to control movement. Many patients have lost 60 to 80 percent of these cells by the time they are diagnosed.

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Sarah Philip
Sarah Philip is a London-based freelance journalist who writes about science, film and TV. You can follow her on Twitter @sarahph1lip.