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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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Rare chimp birth announced at Edinburgh Zoo

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) welcomed the birth of a critically endangered western chimpanzee on Monday 3 February at Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

The baby girl will be named in the coming days through a public vote, and staff will carry out a paternity test during its first health check to determine the father.

Mother Heleen's first infant, Velu, was born in 2014, making this new baby only the second chimpanzee born in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Budongo Trail team leader Donald Gow said: "While we celebrate every birth, this one is particularly special because our new arrival is a critically endangered Western chimpanzee, a rare subspecies of chimpanzee."

Image (c) RZSS/Donald Gow. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.