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Gene therapy ‘can cure lameness’ - study
The research team believe this gene therapy could offer a much faster healing time.
Research may also have implications for human medicine 

A ‘promising’ gene therapy could offer faster and more effective treatment for lameness in horses, scientists say.

An international team injected DNA into the tendons and ligaments of horses that were lame as a result of injury. Within two to three weeks, the horses were able to walk and trot, and after two months, they were back to full health, galloping and competing.

The results also showed that the tissue within the limbs had fully recovered. Twelve months after treatment, the horses were completely fit, active and pain free.

Scientists used a combination of the vascular endothelial growth factor gene (VEGF164), to enhance blood vessel growth, and the bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2), which is important for bone and cartilage development.

Both genes were derived from horses and cloned into a single plasmid DNA, which is biologically safe and unlikely to provoke an immune reaction from the body.

The research team believe this gene therapy could offer a much faster healing time, whilst significantly reducing relapse rates. Current medical therapies have a relapse rate of 60 per cent. Even the best regenerative medicine treatments have a 20 per cent relapse rate and take five or six months to work.

Lead author Professor Albert Rizvanov, from Kazan Federal University, said: “Advancing medicine, relieving pain and restoring function were the main aims of this study. We have shown that these are possible and within a much shorter time span than treatments available at the moment.”

In addition, scientists reported that no side effects or adverse reactions were seen in the horses who received treatment.

These findings not only have implications for veterinary medicine, they could also advance treatments for humans. Scientists say this type of therapy could be used in other injuries and situations, ranging from fertility problems to spinal cord injuries.

Dr Catrin Rutland, who led the work at University of Nottingham, said: “This pioneering study advances not only equine medicine but has real implications for how other species and humans are treated for lameness and other disorders in the future. The horses returned to full health after their injuries and did not have any adverse side effects. This is a very exciting medical innovation.”

The next step is to secure funding for a larger trial.

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Rare chimp birth announced at Edinburgh Zoo

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) welcomed the birth of a critically endangered western chimpanzee on Monday 3 February at Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

The baby girl will be named in the coming days through a public vote, and staff will carry out a paternity test during its first health check to determine the father.

Mother Heleen's first infant, Velu, was born in 2014, making this new baby only the second chimpanzee born in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Budongo Trail team leader Donald Gow said: "While we celebrate every birth, this one is particularly special because our new arrival is a critically endangered Western chimpanzee, a rare subspecies of chimpanzee."

Image (c) RZSS/Donald Gow. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.