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Lab technique to cut need for experimental chickens
The method could reduce the number of chickens needed for IBDV research by 5,000 per year.

Method provides alternative way of studying cell-virus interactions

A new laboratory technique that reduces the need for experimental chickens has been developed by scientists from The Pirbright Institute.

The method, described in the journal JoVE, allows scientists to isolate chicken immune cells infected by infectious burial disease virus (IBDV), known as B cells, and grow them in a laboratory. This enables the interaction between B cells and the virus to be investigated, helping scientists to better understand the disease and develop effective treatment strategies.

“We hope that our procedure can be used and adapted by many other scientists who work with chicken B cells, so that as a community we can reduce the number of birds needed for our experiments,” said Dr Andrew Broadbent, Institute Fellow who heads the Birnaviruses group at Pirbright.

IBDV is a highly contagious disease of poultry that can lead to immunosuppression and mortality in infected birds. Until now, studying how IBDV interacts with the cells it infects was difficult to achieve in the laboratory, as B cells would not survive when removed from chickens.

Researchers say the new method will provide an alternative way of studying cell-virus interactions and could reduce the number of chickens needed for this research by around 5,000 each year.

Dr Broadbent added: “Our research opens up the possibility of studying other viral interactions, such as understanding why some IBDV strains are more virulent, the reaction of B cells to infection with multiple viruses and testing the ability of vaccines to produce immune responses.”

Researchers say the new technique could also be used to study other poultry diseases that infect B cells, such as avian leukosis virus, and could be applied to other hosts like ducks or turkeys.

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New road sign to protect small wildlife

News Story 1
 Transport secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled a new road sign to help cut traffic accidents and protect small wildlife, particularly hedgehogs.

Local authorities and animal welfare groups are being asked to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign - which features a hedgehog - should be located.

Government figures show that more than 600 people were injured in road accidents involving animals in 2017, and four people were killed. These figures do not include accidents involving horses. The new sign will be used to warn motorists in areas where there are large concentrations of small wild animals, including squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.  

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NOAH members re-elect Jamie Brannan as chair

Jamie Brannan, senior Vice President of Zoetis, has been re-elected as chair of NOAH for 2019/20, during this year’s AGM, held in London.

Mr Brannan joined Zoetis and the NOAH board in 2016, becoming NOAH’s vice-chair in 2018 and replacing Gaynor Hillier as chair later that year.

He commented: “I am extremely pleased to have been elected by the NOAH membership and am proud to be able to represent our industry at such a critical time for the UK animal health industry. I look forward to driving forward our new NOAH Strategy and to working with our members, old and new, in the coming year.”