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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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World Bee Day celebrations begin

News Story 1
 Today (20 May) marks the fifth annual World Bee Day, which raises awareness of the importance of bees and pollinators to people and the planet. Observed on the anniversary of pioneering Slovenian beekeeper Anton Jana's birthday, this year's celebration is themed: 'Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems'.

Organisations and people celebrating the day will raise awareness of the accelerated decline in pollinator diversity, and highlight the importance of sustainable beekeeping systems and a wide variety of bees. Slovenia, the initiator of World Bee Day, will be focusing on teaching young people about the significance of pollinators. 

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Further avian flu cases confirmed

Three cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in recent days, bringing the total number of cases in England to 98.

On Thursday, the APHA confirmed two cases of HPAI H5N1 near Redgrave, Mid Suffolk and Market Weston, West Suffolk. A case H5N1 was also confirmed in poultry at a premises near Southwell, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire.

Protection and surveillance zones are in place around the affected premises. Further details are available at gov.uk