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Zebrafish study reveals insights into spinal cord injuries
The immune system plays a key role in helping zebrafish nerve cells to regenerate after injury.
Macrophages are vital for fish to repair damaged connections 

New research into how zebrafish repair their damaged nerve connections could help in the creation of treatments for people with spinal cord injuries.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that the immune system plays a key role in helping zebrafish nerve cells to regenerate after injury. It is hoped the discovery could eventually help people with spinal cord injuries regain control over their movement.

In the study, researchers found that large immune cells, known as macrophages, are vital for fish to repair damaged connections. Whilst these cells normally help the body with of infections, they also have a vital role to play in wound healing.

The team found that macrophages produce key molecules that deepen inflammation at the site of the spinal cord injury, enabling nerve cells to bridge the gap and repair lost connections. Researchers say the next step will be to ascertain how these molecules function in human beings.

Researchers at the University’s Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences have established a system to examine the complex interactions between immune cells at the site of spinal injury and how they contribute to the repair of damaged nerve connections in zebrafish.

“Zebrafish are interesting to us because they can regain full swimming ability after spinal cord injury,” said Professor Catherina Becker, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences. “Our research is focused on understanding the factors involved in this process so that we can look for potential ways of developing treatments for people.”

The study was published in Nature Communications and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

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Huge spike in ‘designer’ dogs going into rescue

News Story 1
 The RSPCA has reported a huge spike in the number of ‘designer’ dogs arriving into its care.

Figures published by the charity show there has been a 517 per cent increase in the number of French bulldogs arriving into its kennels. During that time, the charity has also seen an increase in dachshunds, chihuahuas, and crossbreeds.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “We know that the breeds of dog coming into our care often reflect the trends in dog ownership in the wider world and, at the moment, it doesn’t get more trendy than ‘designer’ dogs like French bulldogs and Dachshunds."

 

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New shearing guidance for farmers and contractors

Industry bodies have produced guidance for farmers and contractors on how to handle sheep during shearing to avoid stress and injury.

The guidance includes every step - from the presentation of sheep and facilities for shearing, through to using a contractor and shearers - and aims to ensure shearing is carried out safely, efficiently and with high standards of animal welfare.

Guide co-author Jill Hewitt from the NAAC said: “Shearing is a professional job that takes significant skill. Shearers take their responsibility to protect animal welfare very seriously and it will be a positive step to remind everyone of the importance of working together.’