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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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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.