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Horse study offers new insights on human disease
AHT scientists were working on Streptococcus equi, which causes strangles in horses.
Scientists ID genes linked with Streptococcus pyogenes

Research in horses has managed to identify new genes that are associated with Streptococcus pyogenes, an important cause of human disease.

Streptococcus pyogenes are responsible for 600 million cases of pharyngitis in humans every year, and infections caused by the bug have seen a dramatic rise around the world over the past 20 years.

The bacteria is also to blame for a further 100 million cases of invasive disease, such as scarlet fever, acute rheumatic fever and necrotising fasciitis.

Despite the cost to human health, the Animal Health Trust (AHT) said little is known about which of the 1,800 genes are required for it to infect people and persist in the throat.

AHT scientists were working on Streptococcus equi, which causes strangles in horses and is closely related to Streptococcus pyogenes. They developed a new technique that allows the importance of every gene in the bug to be tested at once, rather than one at a time.

The technique was transferred to the lab at Houston Methodist Research Institute, where it was also proved effective in the study of Streptococcus pyogenes. The team were able to identify 92 genes that were required for the bacteria to grow in human saliva.

Dr James Musser, a professor at the institute, said this has the potential to accelerate research into this important human pathogen.

In follow-on tests, the team were able to immediately confirm that six of these new genes did affect growth in human saliva, meaning there is potential for novel therapeutics and vaccines.

Dr Andrew Waller, head of bacteriology at AHT, added: “We are delighted that a technique developed at the AHT to learn more about Streptococcus equi and strangles in horses has provided new results that could benefit people too.

“We have learnt a huge amount about our bug through following the work being done on human diseases, and it is great to be able to give something back in return. This study highlights the similarities of animal and human pathogens.

“We hope that our technique will also prove useful for the study and prevention of other diseases, regardless of the animal they affect.”

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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.