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Ground squirrels shed light on new stroke treatments
Blood flow to the brain is dramatically reduced in ground squirrels during hibernation.
Molecule could help to protect brain cells in human stroke patients

Scientists say they have identified a potential drug that could protect the brains of ischemic stroke patients, by mimicking a cellular process that takes place in ground squirrels during hibernation.

Blood flow to the brain is dramatically reduced in ground squirrels during hibernation, yet they emerge from it without any ill effects.

In humans, ischemic strokes occur when a clot cuts off the blood flow to part of the brain, depriving cells of oxygen and nutrients such as blood sugar glucose.

Currently, the only way to limit cell death is to remove the clot as quickly as possible. Treatments to help brain cells to survive oxygen and glucose deprivation could dramatically improve outcomes for patients.

Researchers recently discovered that a cellular process known as SUMOylation goes into overdrive in a certain species of ground squirrel during hibernation. Further study confirmed the suspicion that this is how the animals’ brains can survive reduced blood flow during hibernation.

“If we could only turn on the process hibernators appear to use to protect their brains, we could help protect the brain during a stroke and ultimately help people recover,” said lead author Joshua Bernstock.

Francesca Bosetti, programme director at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, added: “For decades scientists have been searching for an effective brain-protecting stroke therapy to no avail.

“If the compound identified in this study successfully reduces tissue death and improves recovery in further experiments, it could lead to new approaches for preserving brain cells after an ischemic stroke.”

Scientists now plan to test whether the compound, ebselen, can protect the brains of animal models of stroke.

The findings have been publishing in the FASEB journal.

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Wildlife presenter to deliver keynote speech at BVA Congress

News Story 1
 The BVA has confirmed wildlife presenter Mike Dilger will deliver the keynote speech at this yearís congress. Mike is known as ĎBritainís most diseased maní, having contracted a number of exotic diseases on his travels, including malaria, bilharzia and leishmaniasis. His talk, ĎMy diseases and other animalsí, promises to be an amusing and inspiring lecture on his travels in the tropics and his thoughts on how the mass media is influencing human engagement with wildlife and nature. The lecture will take place at 1pm on 16 November, in the BVA Congress Theatre at Londonís ExCeL. 

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Vet school runs event for aspiring vets and nurses

Bristol Veterinary School is hosting an event for aspiring vets and vet nurses, to allow them to experience life as a student and find out what itís like to work in veterinary medicine. The one-day event, called VetQuest, will be held at the Langford Campus and includes a tour, talks on admissions and work experience, and the chance to take part in practical sessions. Taking place on Saturday 27 October, the event is primarily aimed at 11-12 year olds and costs £50, including lunch. There are a limited number of subsidised tickets for £10. To book, visit VetQuest 2018