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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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Newborn okapi named after Meghan Markle

News Story 1
 An endangered okapi recently born at London Zoo has been named Meghan - after Prince Harry’s fiancé Meghan Markle - in celebration of the upcoming royal wedding. Okapis are classed as endangered in the wild, having suffered ongoing declines since 1995. Zookeeper Gemma Metcalf said: “We’re very pleased with how mother and baby are doing. Oni is being very attentive, making sure she regularly licks her clean and keeping a watchful eye over Meghan as she sleeps.” Image © ZSL London Zoo  

News Shorts
Ten new cases of Alabama rot confirmed

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists has confirmed 10 new cases of Alabama rot, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 122.

In a Facebook post, the referral centre said the cases were from County Durham, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, Sussex, West Somerset, Devon, and Powys.

Pet owners are urged to remain vigilant and seek advice from their vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions/sores.