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Zebrafish study reveals insights into spinal cord injuries
The immune system plays a key role in helping zebrafish nerve cells to regenerate after injury.
Macrophages are vital for fish to repair damaged connections 

New research into how zebrafish repair their damaged nerve connections could help in the creation of treatments for people with spinal cord injuries.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that the immune system plays a key role in helping zebrafish nerve cells to regenerate after injury. It is hoped the discovery could eventually help people with spinal cord injuries regain control over their movement.

In the study, researchers found that large immune cells, known as macrophages, are vital for fish to repair damaged connections. Whilst these cells normally help the body with of infections, they also have a vital role to play in wound healing.

The team found that macrophages produce key molecules that deepen inflammation at the site of the spinal cord injury, enabling nerve cells to bridge the gap and repair lost connections. Researchers say the next step will be to ascertain how these molecules function in human beings.

Researchers at the University’s Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences have established a system to examine the complex interactions between immune cells at the site of spinal injury and how they contribute to the repair of damaged nerve connections in zebrafish.

“Zebrafish are interesting to us because they can regain full swimming ability after spinal cord injury,” said Professor Catherina Becker, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences. “Our research is focused on understanding the factors involved in this process so that we can look for potential ways of developing treatments for people.”

The study was published in Nature Communications and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

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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.”