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Locust study aims to reveal insights into hearing loss
The locust ear could be used as an animal model to gain insights into age-related and noise-induced hearing loss.

Researcher awarded Royal Society University Research Fellowship

An unlikely insect has been employed to help researchers understand why hearing loss occurs in animals.

The insect, a desert locust, will be used by University of Leicester researcher Dr Ben Warren to understand how sound gets converted into electrical signals, which animals then hear.

Dr Warren explained that the desert locust has ears either side of its abdomen. This means that its auditory nerve cells can be easily accessed and the electrical signals can be recorded in response to sound.

“This will be exploited to identify the protein that converts sound into electrical signals; this sound-transducing protein is considered the ‘holy grail’ by many in the auditory neuroscience field,” he said.

Dr Warren also hopes to develop funding opportunities to use the locust ear to gain insights into age-related and noise-induced hearing loss, from which both humans and locusts suffer.

The research has been made possible thanks to a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship, awarded to Dr Warren after submitting a written research proposal and convincing a panel of experts.

“Suited-and-booted in my brother’s one-size-too-large-suit, I sat in front of 16 interviewers and attempted to sell them the dream of using the desert locust to understand how we hear,” he said.

Image (C) University of Leicester

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ZSL London Zoo shares animal X-rays

News Story 1
 A selection of X-ray images showing the inner workings of frogs, turtles, snakes and geckos have been shared by veterinary surgeons at ZSL London Zoo.

Taken as part of a routine health check, the images have been shared as part of ‘Vets in Action’ week - a hand’s on role-playing experience for children that explores the life of a zoo vet.

ZSL London Zoo veterinary nurse Heather Mackintosh said: “It’s great to be able to share the work that goes on behind the scenes at the Zoo to keep our residents in tip-top condition – and our visitors are always amazed to find out more about their favourite animals.” 

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Vets in developing nations given free access to BSAVA’s online library

BSAVA has teamed up with the WSAVA, the WSAVA Foundation and FECAVA to offer vets in developing nations free access to its online library.

The Association’s ‘Foundation Collection’ is comprised of more than 70 hours of articles, lectures and book chapters covering topics such as basic handling skills, working on a budget and emergency triage. Some of the countries set to benefit include Albania, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.

Nicolette Hayward, of BSAVA International Affairs Committee said: “Our mission is to promote excellence in small animal practice through education and science, so we are delighted to work with WSAVA, the WSAVA Foundation and FECAVA to share these high-quality resources to the veterinary profession in low and middle-income countries.”