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One health study could shed light on fertility treatments
“This study highlights the validity of cattle as a model to study human ovarian physiology and fertility."
miR-96 could be key to sustaining pregnancy

A new study of human cells and tissues collected from cattle has revealed the gene-regulating molecule miR-96 could be key to establishing and sustaining pregnancy.

When an egg is released from a follicle in the ovary, the tissue left behind forms the corpus luteum and secretes hormones that are essential for sustaining pregnancy. Inadequate production of progesterone has been associated with pregnancy loss in cattle, sheep and horses.

In humans this association remains unclear, but improving understanding in this area could lead to new fertility treatments.

Scientists from the Roslin Institute explored the effects of small non-coding RNA molecules (microRNAs) on the survival and production of progesterone by corpus luteum cells in humans undergoing assisted contraception.

Previous studies have implicated microRNAs in the maturation of ovarian follicles in several farm animal species. Roslin scientists also collected ovarian tissue from cattle to find out which microRNAs are up-regulated as the corpus luteum develops.

The team found distinct increases in the levels of miR-96 and miR-132 in luteum tissue, relative to follicular tissue. These changes were mirrored in human luteal cells.

Using a specific inhibitor to down-regulate miR-96 decreased the production of progesterone and triggered human luteal cell death. Further analysis revealed the effects of miR-96 are mediated by the transcription factor FOXO1, which offers insights into potential targets for new fertility treatments.

Lead author Dr Xavier Donadeu commented: “This study highlights the validity of cattle as a model to study human ovarian physiology and fertility. Our comparative approach provides new insight into reproductive mechanisms in humans.”

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Giraffe Conservation Foundation named BVNA’s charity of the year

News Story 1
 BVNA president Wendy Nevins has named The Giraffe Conservation Foundation as the association’s charity of the year for 2017/2018.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation dedicates its work to a sustainable future for wild giraffe populations. Wendy Nevins said: ‘I have chosen the Giraffe Conservation Foundation for the BVNA Charity of the Year because I have always thought Giraffes were magnificent animals.

‘I also think it is important that we look at the wider issue of conservation and education across all species.’  

News Shorts
Scientists win award for openness in animal research

UK scientists have won an award for the 360ş Laboratory Animal Tours project, which offered the public an online, interactive tour of four research facilities that are usually restricted access.

The project won a public engagement award at the Understanding Animal Research (UAR) Openness Awards, which recognise UK research facilities for transparency on their use of animals in research, as well as innovation in communicating with the public.

The tour was created by the Pirbright Institute, the University of Oxford, the University of Bristol and MRC Harwell Institute.