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New bioimaging collaboration to bolster infectious disease research
The collaboration will greatly improve the UK's national capabilities

Electron microscopes will allow more detailed study of viral diseases

The Pirbright Institute and Diamond Light Source have announced a new-five year collaboration that will allow both institutions to make advancements in their research. This agreement will improve research and innovation identified by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) infrastructure programme.

Pirbright’s head of bioimaging Professor Pippa Hawes will be working at both sites, helping to prepare Pirbright research projects for high resolution electron microscopy and contributing to Diamond’s development initiatives.

Commenting on the agreement, Prof Hawes says: “There is a lot of preparatory work that can be carried out at Pirbright with our microscopes. We can use them to really define the questions we need to answer and then ensure we have samples prepared in a way that will maximise their use at Diamond.”

Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron, has an embedded cryo-electron microscope facility, known as Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC). These powerful microscopes are capable of solving protein molecular structures to below 0.3 nm resolution, and are well suited to projects that involve understanding the cell biology of virus-host interactions, as well as how viruses replicate.

The microscopes have also enabled the design of a new vaccine for the foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), through allowing Pirbright scientists to view the outer shell of the vaccine. This vaccine has recently been licensed for further development.

Director of Pirbright, Bryan Charleston comments: “A long and productive association between Pirbright and Diamond exists that has resulted in vital research developments such as the visualisation of the FMDV capsid, bluetongue virus and bovine antibody structures. We hope this agreement will aid our ambition to understand the biology of high consequence viruses and expand the range of programmes exploring solutions to control current and emerging problems.”

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Cats Protection launches Christmas animation

News Story 1
 Leading feline charity Cats Protection has launched a heartwarming Christmas animation to raise awareness of the important work it does. The animation is based on a true story of a kitten that went missing earlier this year. Freezing cold and hungry, the kitten was dumped in a box on a roadside and somehow became separated from her brother and sisters.


Thankfully there is a happy end to this tail, and Libby - now named Misty - was eventually reunited with her littermates. Misty’s owner, Amy Smith, said: “Misty has settled amazingly well into our home, she has found a best friend in my daughter Lily and likes to follow her around the house. She also loves to chase bugs in the garden. We feel very lucky to have her.” 

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WSAVA launches certificate programme focusing on companion animals in One Health

The first certificate programme focusing specifically on the role of companion animals in One Health has been launched by the One Health Committee (OHC) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

The online programme, which is free of charge for WSAVA members, has been developed in recognition of the growing impact of companion animals in human society. Pet ownership is becoming more popular globally, and this has increased the implications for One Health, regarding the human-companion animal bond. The WSAVA OHC hopes that this course will bridge the knowledge gap between veterinary surgeons and human physicians. New modules are being added weekly, with a total of 20 modules expected to be available by early 2020.