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Immune cell study prompts new approach to tackling infections
Oxygen levels in the body can have a profound effect on the way cells behave.

Oxygen level affects how cells behave

A new study by the University of Edinburgh has found that oxygen levels in the body can have a profound effect on the way cells behave.

The research, published in the journal Science Immunology, could pave the way to new treatments that target the immune response to infection.

In the study of mice, researchers found that bacteria infections have vastly different outcomes depending on the level of oxygen in the body when infection takes hold.  

In mice that had low levels of oxygen in the body when the virus took hold, the immune system launched a massive overreaction. Fatal illness occurred, even though the bacteria had cleared from the body.

If the mice had low oxygen levels before the virus took hold, the researchers found that this protects the body from illness, without preventing it from fighting the bacteria.

If human cells react in the same way, researchers say that oxygen sensing mechanisms could be ‘tweaked’ in order to tackle infections.

It is hoped that the findings will help people suffering from chronic lung conditions, such as emphysema. These patients often have low levels of oxygen in their body and are more susceptible to infection.

“We are excited by our observation that oxygen levels can regulate immune cell responses to infection,” commented Dr Sarah Walmsley, of the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh.

“Targeting these pathways could have the potential to improve outcomes from infections where oxygen is limited.”

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HM The Queen opens new centre for elephant care

News Story 1
 HM The Queen, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, has officially unveiled ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s brand new Centre for Elephant Care.

Set amidst 30 acres of rolling paddocks, the custom-designed Centre for Elephant Care is the new home for the Zoo’s herd of nine Asian elephants.

The Centre will provide more than 700m² of indoor space and contains an array of elephant-friendly features, including dimming lights to mimic night-time and one metre-deep soft sand flooring.  

News Shorts
New manual to help producers use medicines responsibly

A new manual to help sheep and beef producers use medicines responsibly has been published by AHDB Beef & Lamb.

The Better Returns Programme manual, Using Medicines Correctly for Better Returns, outlines the key principles when using medicines on the farm.

It includes making sure the medicine and correct dose is used at the right time, and that it is stored and administered correctly. It also explains the importance of using antibiotics and anthelmintics responsibly to avoid the build up of resistance.