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Deep-diving seals protected by anti-inflammatory serum
Elephant seals can dive as far as 1,550m beneath the surface of the ocean.

Researchers examine protective strategies of weddell and elephant seals
Deep-diving seals which rely on lung collapse to prevent damage and limit nitrogen absorption are protected by an anti-inflammatory serum, according to new research.

Researchers hope their finding could protect deep sea divers from long-term lung damage and aid with the healing process.

Published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the study looked at how weddell and elephant seals protect their lungs when they perform a deep dive.

Researchers from various US institutions, including Harvard Medical School and the University of Connecticut, examined the inflammatory response of seal blood and human blood exposed to the bacterial toxin lipopolysaccharide.

They found that the toxin triggered hardly any inflammatory response in the seal blood. In the human blood, however, inflammation was 50 to 500 times greater. When the researchers added serum extracted from seal blood to mouse immune cells, the serum decreased the immune response.

“These data suggest that seal serum possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which may protect deep divers from naturally occurring inflammatory challenges, such as dive-induced hypoxia-deoxygenation and lung collapse," the researchers note.

Weddell and elephant seals are impressive divers. Elephant seals can go as far as 1,550m beneath the surface of the ocean, whilst weddell seals can dive to around 600m and spend as long as 82 minutes.

The team would now like to identify the protective compounds in the hope that one day they could extend the life of transplanted organs and help treat lung damage. 

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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.”