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Chicken study sheds light on childhood eye disease
Scientists at the Roslin Institute studied chicken embryos to determine how fusion occurs.

New genes identified that are linked to ocular coloboma

A study of chicken embryos has identified new genes that could be responsible for the development of ocular coloboma in humans.

Ocular coloboma causes part of the eye to be missing at birth, severely affecting the patient’s vision. It accounts for up to 10 per cent of all childhood blindness and cannot be treated.

The disease is the result of errors in tissue fusion, which is essential for the formation of the eye and many other organs of the developing embryo.

Scientists at the Roslin Institute studied chicken embryos to determine how fusion occurs and identified genes that are switched on or off during the process.

One of the many newly identified genes included Netrin-1, which scientists say is likely to be critical in humans and other species, as well as in organs other than the eye.

Lead author Dr Joe Rainger said: “Identifying new genes and processes involved in tissue fusion will improve our understanding of how fusion defects occur, and whether these may be preventable.

"The fusion-genes we have revealed are also an excellent resource to support the identification of genetic defects in patient sequencing programmes.”

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Pair of endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Colchester Zoo

News Story 1
 Keepers at Colchester Zoo are hailing the arrival of a pair of critically endangered Amur leopard cubs.

The cubs were born to first-time parents Esra and Crispin on the 9 September. This is the first time the Zoo has bred Amur leopard cubs on-site.

Amur leopards originate from the Russian Far East and north-east China. In the wild they are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade.

The cubs are said to be “looking well” and are expected to emerge from their den in a few weeks.  

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News Shorts
BEVA survey seeks views about antibiotic use in horses

Equine vets are being invited to participate in a BEVA survey that aims to find out more about antimicrobial resistance in equine veterinary practice.

Designed by researchers at the University of Liverpool and incoming BEVA president Tim Mair, the survey aims to fill gaps in knowledge about how antimicrobials are being used in equine practice and the landscape of resistant infections encountered in equine practice.

Researchers hope the results will lead to a greater understanding of the role of antimicrobial treatment and antimicrobial resistance in horses and protect antibiotics for the future of equine and human health.