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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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Nominations open for National Cat Awards 2020

News Story 1
 UK charity Cats Protection has announced that cat owners can nominate their pets for the National Cat Awards 2020 starting today.

The awards take place annually, celebrating heart warming stories of the positive impact that cats have on their owners. Cat owners have until Thursday 12 March to submit their nominations through the Cats Protection website. 

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Restriction zone lifted at Suffolk chicken farm

A one-kilometre restriction zone around a commercial chicken farm in mid-Suffolk has been lifted, following the completion of surveillance testing for avian influenza H5N3 with negative results.

Some 27,000 birds on the premises were culled after a veterinary surgeon identified the disease while investigating a fall in egg production. Poultry keepers are urged to take action to reduce the risk of disease in their flock by following government advice on biosecurity.