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Vets identify gene responsible for feline tooth resorption
The discovery follows an analysis of genetic material recovered from the teeth of 11 cats.
Blocking activity of the MMP9 gene could prevent condition from developing.

A team of vets at the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies say they have identified a gene responsible for causing feline tooth resorption - a common condition estimated to affect 20 to 60 per cent of all cats.

The discovery follows an analysis of genetic material recovered from the teeth of 11 cats, with permission of the animals' owners. Vets found more than 1,000 genes that had been active in teeth where resorption had occurred and therefore might be involved in the process. 

The team concentrated on one particular gene - the MMP9 gene - which produces a protein commonly found in areas of damaged tissue. In experiments using two different techniques to prevent activity in the gene, both approaches prevented the biological processes associated with tooth resorption.

Researchers say their findings, published in Scientific Reports, suggest that the MMP9 gene, and the protein it generates, are involved in causing tooth resorption. Blocking the action of this particular gene could, therefore, prevent the cell processes that lead to disease, they write.

Dr Seungmee Lee from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, explains: “This is a painful condition which affects virtually all mature cats, and currently there is no effective way to manage the disease other than removing affected teeth. By examining genes involved in the process it seems that if we stop the activity of the MMP9 gene, we may be able to prevent the condition from developing.” 

Currently, there are no treatments for tooth resorption other than extracting the affected teeth. Researchers say their discovery could inform new treatments for this condition and may also have implications for other conditions, such as the role of MMP9 in bone diseases.

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Born Free video highlights how humans are to blame for COVID-19

News Story 1
 Wildlife charity Born Free has released a video emphasising the importance of changing the ways in which humans treat wildlife in order to prevent pandemics from occurring in the future.

The video, narrated by founder patron Joanna Lumley OBE, says: "To deal with the very immediate threat of another global catastrophe, we have to focus on ending the destruction and conversion of natural habitats and the devastating impact of the wildlife trade.

"The vast majority of these viruses originated in wild animals before infecting us. Destroying and exploiting nature puts us in closer contact with wildlife than ever before."

Born Free has compiled an online resource with information on how to take action and improve protections for wildlife here.

To view the video, please click here.

Images (c) Jan Schmidt-Burbach. 

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RVC opens 2021 Summer Schools applications

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has opened applications for its 2021 Summer Schools, with students in Years 10, 11 and 12 invited to apply.

Taking place between July and August 2021, the event gives budding vets from all backgrounds first-hand insight into what it's like to study at the Campus.

Much of this year's content is likely to be delivered virtually, including online lectures and practical demonstrations, but the RVC hopes to welcome each of the participants to campus for at least one day to gain some hands-on experience.

For more information about the Schools and to apply, visit: rvc.uk.com/SummerSchools Applications close on the 2 March 2021.