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Major step forward in thermally-stable TB vaccines
The findings, published in Scientific Reports, were described by researchers as a big step forward.
Promising vaccine can be protected from heat damage - study

A promising TB vaccine for cattle and humans can be protected from heat damage, using a new technique developed at the University of Bath, scientists say.

The new method, called ensilication, prevents crucial vaccine components spoiling outside the fridge by ‘shrink wrapping’ the proteins in position, using layers of silica that build a ‘cage’ around the molecules.

Researchers showed that the TB antigen ag85b and a vaccine fused with the adjuvant protein Sbi, are sensitive to breakdown outside of the fridge.

They were then able to show for the first time that these vaccine components were protected from heat damage when ensilicated and kept at room temperature for long periods of time.

The findings, published in Scientific Reports, were described by researchers as a big step forward, not only in developing thermally-stable TB vaccines, but also in showing that this technique could be used for many different kinds of vaccine.

Fifty per cent of vaccines are currently discarded before use, after exposure to suboptimal temperatures. The World Health Organisation named thermostable vaccines a priority research area in its Global Vaccine Action Plan for 2011-2020.

Lead author Professor Jean van den Elsen said: “A new TB vaccine is really urgently needed to supplement or replace the existing BCG vaccine and reduce the number of TB cases and deaths – particularly as drug-resistant TB infections remain high.”

First author Ayla Wahid, added: “To make the vaccine as effective as possible it needs to be thermally-stable, or in other words not spoil outside of a fridge, which is why we’re really encouraged by these results. Cold-chain storage leads to a lot of wastage and expense which could be avoided by ensilication.”

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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.