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Platypus milk protein could ‘save lives’
Researchers from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, have discovered why platypus milk is so potent.

Protein contains unique antibacterial properties 

Australian scientists are one step closer to using platypus milk to save human lives.

In 2010, researchers discovered that platypus milk contained unique antibacterial compounds that could be used to combat superbugs. Now a team of researchers from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, have discovered why platypus milk is so potent
.

The research has been published in the journal, Structural Biology Communications.

“Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry,” said lead author Dr Jane Newman. “By taking a closer look at their milk, we’ve characterised a new protein that has unique antibacterial properties with the potential to save lives.”

Platypuses are unique mammals in that they feed their young by secreting milk through the pores of their skin. Exposing the mother’s highly nutritious milk to the environment, however, leaves young open to the threat of bacteria.

Dr Julie Sharp from Deakin University, who worked with CSIRO on the project, said this was why researchers believed the milk contained a protein with antibacterial characteristics.

Employing CSIRO’s Collaborative Crystallisation Centre, the scientists successfully recreated the milk protein, then deciphered its structure to get a better understanding of it.

The scientists dubbed the protein the ‘Shirley Temple’ due to its ringlet-like shape. Interestingly, they discovered the protein has a novel fold in its structure, which they say will inform future drug research.

"Although we’ve identified this highly unusual protein as only existing in monotremes, this discovery increases our knowledge of protein structures in general, and will go on to inform other drug discovery work done at the Centre," said Dr Newman.

The team are now seeking collaborators to take the potentially life-saving platypus research to the next stage.

Image (C) Laura Romin and Larry Dalton.

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Amur leopard cubs caught on camera

News Story 1
 A pair of Amur leopards have been captured on camera for the first time since their birth. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland announced the birth in July, but with human presence being kept to a minimum, it was not known how many cubs had been born.

Motion sensitive cameras have now revealed that two cubs emerged from the den - at least one of which may be released into the wild in Russia within the next two or three years. The Amur leopard habitat is not open to the public, to help ensure the cubs retain their wild instincts and behaviour. Image © RZSS 

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New canine and feline dentistry manual announced

A new canine and feline dentistry and oral surgery manual has been published by the BSAVA. Announcing the news on its website, the BSAVA said this latest edition contains new step-by-step operative techniques, together with full-colour illustrations and photographs.

‘This is a timely publication; veterinary dentistry is a field that continues to grow in importance for the general veterinary practitioner,’ the BSAVA said. ‘The manual has been fully revised and updated to include the most relevant, evidence-based techniques.’

The BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Dentistry and Oral Surgery, 4th edition is available to purchase from www.bsava.com/shop