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Chicken study sheds light on childhood eye disease
Scientists at the Roslin Institute studied chicken embryos to determine how fusion occurs.

New genes identified that are linked to ocular coloboma

A study of chicken embryos has identified new genes that could be responsible for the development of ocular coloboma in humans.

Ocular coloboma causes part of the eye to be missing at birth, severely affecting the patient’s vision. It accounts for up to 10 per cent of all childhood blindness and cannot be treated.

The disease is the result of errors in tissue fusion, which is essential for the formation of the eye and many other organs of the developing embryo.

Scientists at the Roslin Institute studied chicken embryos to determine how fusion occurs and identified genes that are switched on or off during the process.

One of the many newly identified genes included Netrin-1, which scientists say is likely to be critical in humans and other species, as well as in organs other than the eye.

Lead author Dr Joe Rainger said: “Identifying new genes and processes involved in tissue fusion will improve our understanding of how fusion defects occur, and whether these may be preventable.

"The fusion-genes we have revealed are also an excellent resource to support the identification of genetic defects in patient sequencing programmes.”

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Big Butterfly Count returns

News Story 1
 The world's biggest survey of butterflies is back for 2020!

Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count launches on Friday, 17 July and will run until Sunday 9 August. Members of the public can get involved by downloading the Big Butterfly Count App or recording results on a downloadable sheet available from bigbutterflycount.org/.

'It's a fantastic activity for people from three to 103 years and we'd encourage everyone to take 15 minutes in an appropriate outdoor space during sunny conditions to simply appreciate the nature around them and do their bit to help us understand butterfly populations,' said a Butterfly Conservation spokesperson. 

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New appointment at Dechra

Dechra Veterinary Products Ltd (Dechra) has announced a key appointment to support veterinary professionals across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Karen Hockley has been appointed as a telesales account manager and will provide the latest products, news and developments from Dechra. She joins the company from a large mixed practice in Northern Ireland where she was the branch manager.

Before that, Karen had worked for a multinational veterinary pharmaceutical company as a key account manager for Northern Ireland. She can be contacted at karen.hockley@dechra.com or 087 219 54 30.