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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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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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BSAVA announces winner of 2019 Bourgelat Award

One of the world’s leading small animal medicine specialists is set to receive the prestigious Bourgelat Award at BSAVA Congress 2019.

Professor Mike Herrtage will be recognised for his major research into metabolic and endocrine diseases, including diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease.

During his career, Prof Herrtage has co-authored more than 100 scientific papers and written more than 200 other publications such as abstracts, books and chapters. He also continues to be a source of inspiration for thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate veterinary surgeons.