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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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New road sign to protect small wildlife

News Story 1
 Transport secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled a new road sign to help cut traffic accidents and protect small wildlife, particularly hedgehogs.

Local authorities and animal welfare groups are being asked to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign - which features a hedgehog - should be located.

Government figures show that more than 600 people were injured in road accidents involving animals in 2017, and four people were killed. These figures do not include accidents involving horses. The new sign will be used to warn motorists in areas where there are large concentrations of small wild animals, including squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.  

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NOAH members re-elect Jamie Brannan as chair

Jamie Brannan, senior Vice President of Zoetis, has been re-elected as chair of NOAH for 2019/20, during this year’s AGM, held in London.

Mr Brannan joined Zoetis and the NOAH board in 2016, becoming NOAH’s vice-chair in 2018 and replacing Gaynor Hillier as chair later that year.

He commented: “I am extremely pleased to have been elected by the NOAH membership and am proud to be able to represent our industry at such a critical time for the UK animal health industry. I look forward to driving forward our new NOAH Strategy and to working with our members, old and new, in the coming year.”