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Research into cow DNA could help extend human life expectancy
The study also revealed that factors such as stress and illness can affect telomeres.

‘Biological marker’ could inform positive lifestyle changes

Scientists from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have announced that research into the DNA of cows could go on to help human geneticists in assessing how we can lead healthier, longer lives.

In a study of the lives of 700 cows, more than 2,000 blood samples were taken. SRUC scientists discovered that the weeks and months after birth are when telomeres – which protect the end of chromosomes – deteriorate the most, indicating how long and healthy an animal could live.

Telomeres reduce every time a cell divides because the mechanism that repairs the DNA strands is not 100 per cent effective. The study also revealed that factors such as stress and illness can affect telomeres, and although they cannot be genetically altered in humans, studies into their deterioration is helping scientists prolong life.

Professor Mike Coffey, head of animal and vet science at SRUC said: “The data we have collected is the biggest in the world on repeat measure of telomere length on the same animal over time so it is very valuable.

“We found that most of the loss of telomere length takes place early in the animal’s life. Cells divide rapidly early in life so the argument is that animals who are born with longer telomeres have a greater chance of survival before the shorter telomeres limit their lives.”

This ‘easy-to-obtain biological marker’ can be used moving forward, for selection in animals, helping farmers to assess the lifespans of cattle and determine which cows would be better for breeding, dairy or fattening up for beef.

Professor Melissa Bateson, from Newcastle University’s Neuroscience Institute, outlined the importance of animal research as, unlike human research, it can include experiments into telomeres.

She added: “If you show that stress is causal in shortening telomeres in animals, it gives more credence to the idea that something similar may be going on in humans.

“If we think that telomeres are a measure of biological age and basically sum up all the bad things that you have been exposed to over your life then that is potentially quite useful [because] it can contribute to our understanding of what kind of lifestyle factors are going to make you live a long, healthy life and which ones might be going to make you die young.”

 

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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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.