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Locust study aims to reveal insights into hearing loss
The locust ear could be used as an animal model to gain insights into age-related and noise-induced hearing loss.

Researcher awarded Royal Society University Research Fellowship

An unlikely insect has been employed to help researchers understand why hearing loss occurs in animals.

The insect, a desert locust, will be used by University of Leicester researcher Dr Ben Warren to understand how sound gets converted into electrical signals, which animals then hear.

Dr Warren explained that the desert locust has ears either side of its abdomen. This means that its auditory nerve cells can be easily accessed and the electrical signals can be recorded in response to sound.

“This will be exploited to identify the protein that converts sound into electrical signals; this sound-transducing protein is considered the ‘holy grail’ by many in the auditory neuroscience field,” he said.

Dr Warren also hopes to develop funding opportunities to use the locust ear to gain insights into age-related and noise-induced hearing loss, from which both humans and locusts suffer.

The research has been made possible thanks to a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship, awarded to Dr Warren after submitting a written research proposal and convincing a panel of experts.

“Suited-and-booted in my brother’s one-size-too-large-suit, I sat in front of 16 interviewers and attempted to sell them the dream of using the desert locust to understand how we hear,” he said.

Image (C) University of Leicester

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”