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Pigs ‘could be a better model for human influenza’
The results suggest that targeting the lower respiratory tract with aerosol vaccination could be more effective in preventing severe disease.

’Striking difference’ to the same vaccine in pigs and ferrets 

A new study has raised questions about whether ferrets are a good model for studying human influenza.

Ferrets are considered to be a gold standard animal model for influenza research, but scientists now say that S-FLU - a universal flu vaccine candidate - evokes different immune responses in pigs and ferrets.

Findings published in the Journal of Immunology suggest that pigs may offer a more faithful representation of influenza disease in humans.

S-FLU is a weakened strain of flu virus, designed to trigger a response from T cells that are able to react to multiple strains of flu.

Researchers found a ‘striking difference’ in the way that pigs and ferrets responded to the same vaccine. When administered to pigs, the vaccine activated a newly-identified type of T cell, against a flu virus of a different strain. Disease severity was reduced, but the amount of virus stayed the same.

When it was administered to ferrets, however, the viral replication was reduced, as was the amount of virus transmitted to other animals. Scientists said pigs provide a model that is closer in size and has a very similar respiratory system to humans. Pigs are also naturally infected with influenza viruses.

The team’s discovery of a new type of T cell - tissue-resident memory T-cells - also sheds light on how influenza is fought in the lung.

The results also suggest that targeting the lower respiratory tract with aerosol vaccination could be more effective in preventing severe disease in pigs. This finding offers promising evidence that the same could be true in humans.

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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.”