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Biologists 'transfer’ memory from one snail to another
David Glanzman holding a marine snail.

Research could lead to new ways to restore lost memories

Biologists at the University of California, Los Angeles, have used ribonucleic acid (RNA) to ‘transfer’ a memory from one marine snail to another.

The research is the first of its kind and it is hoped that it could lead to new ways to lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder.

When snails are tapped, they withdraw back into their shell. Using mild electric shocks, researchers were able to enhance this withdrawal reflex, which the snails use to protect themselves from potential harm.

The researchers then extracted RNA from the shocked snails and injected it into snails that had not been shocked. Incredibly, these snails behaved as if they had themselves received the shocks. They displayed a defensive contraction that lasted on average 40 seconds.

“It’s as though we transferred the memory,” said senior author David Glanzman.

RNA is an essential molecule for the production of protein and is understood to be important in the regulation of cellular processes involved in development and disease.

Glanzman believes that RNA could be used to awaken and restore memories that have gone dormant in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. He now wants to identify the specific kinds of RNA that can be used to transfer memories.

The study, RNA from trained aplysia can induce an epigenetic engram for long-term sensitization in untrained aplysia, is published in the journal eNeuro.

Image (C) Christelle Snow/UCLA

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”