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Garden snails offer hope for new antibiotic
"We think that it might be possible to incorporate the purified protein into a cream to treat deep burn wounds and possibly an aerosol to treat lung infections.”

Snail mucus reveals proteins that could treat infections

Proteins found in the mucus of garden snails could offer hope for a new antibiotic, scientists say.

Research published in the British Journal of Biomedical Science suggests the proteins could directly lead to a new antibiotic cream for deep burn wounds, and an aerosol for lung infections seen in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF).

Dr Sarah Pitt from the University of Brighton began collecting the frothy mucus from brown garden snails and testing it for antibacterial activity against a panel of bacteria.

In previous work she had found the mucus inhibited the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is a very important cause of lung infections in patients with CF. Antibiotic resistant strains of the bacterium are becoming increasing common, opening up a need for new drugs.

Working with colleagues at Kings College London, Dr Pitt separated sterile solutions of proteins known as protein fractions in a novel way, so that smaller portions could be sent for antimicrobial testing. The team were surprised to find that fractions containing some smaller proteins also worked against the bacteria.

“Matching them with the international data base of proteins, we found that no one had reported them before, so they are newly identified,” Dr Pitt said.

However, further research is needed: “If we can make the proteins artificially in the lab, we can try and work out what they are doing to the bacterium,” she added.

"We think that it might be possible to incorporate the purified protein into a cream to treat deep burn wounds and possibly an aerosol to treat lung infections.”

 

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.