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Zebrafish insights could help humans reach Mars
Scientists found that torpor reduced the metabolic rate in zebrafish and created a radioprotective effect.
Researchers assess whether induced torpor could protect astronauts against radiation.

New insights into the zebrafish could help humans get to Mars by understanding how a type of hibernation, known as induced torpor, may protect against radiation.

Torpor is a reduced state of physical or mental activity in animals that protects them against harsh conditions, such as low temperatures and food shortages.

Scientists believe that reproducing torpor in humans could protect astronauts against the harsh conditions of space exploration, such as radiation exposure, bone and muscle wastage, vascular problems and advanced ageing.

“Recent technological advancements have made space travel more accessible, however, long-term space travel is incredibly detrimental to human health,” explained Professor Gary Hardiman, a researcher at Queen’s University Belfast and senior author of the paper. 

“We set out to determine if induced torpor is a viable countermeasure to the harmful effects of spaceflight. If humans could replicate a similar model of hibernation we have observed in the zebrafish, it could increase our chances of making humans a spacefaring species.”

In the study, researchers exposed zebrafish to radiation similar to what would be experienced on a six-month mission to Mars. They noted that the radiation caused signs of oxidative stress, stress hormone signalling and halted the zebrafish cell cycle. 

Next, the team induced torpor in a second group of zebrafish exposed to the same amount of radiation. The researchers analysed the gene expression patterns to examine the protective effects of this state on both physical and mental activity. 

They found that torpor reduced the metabolic rate in zebrafiish and created a radioprotective effect, thereby protecting against the harmful effects of radiation. The findings are published in the journal MDPI Cells.

“Our results reveal that whilst in induced torpor, the zebrafish showed that a reduction in metabolism and oxygen concentration in cells promotes less oxidative stress and greater resistance to radiation,” said study co-first author Thomas Cahill. 

"These insights into how a reduction in metabolic rate can offer protection from radiation exposure and could help humans achieve a similar kind of hibernation, counter measuring the damage they currently face during spaceflight.”

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VetCT app offered to students and new graduates

News Story 1
 The VetCT app is being offered for free to students and new veterinary graduates for their first three months in practice. The app provides a service for vets to send case information to a global team of Diploma-holding specialists, who can provide advice and support via instant call-back, text chat, written report, or virtual appointment.

Time on the app is automatically logged as CPD with quarterly certificates being generated for users. Additional services include the ability to book bespoke CPD, significant event reviews, and live training sessions such as surgical procedures.

The app is downloadable for both iOS and Android systems. 

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News Shorts
HORIBA to host CPD webinar

HORIBA has announced that it will host an online CPD meeting focusing on 'Exotic Parasites - The Importance of Testing in The Imported Dog'. Ian Wright (BVMS, MSc, MRCVS), head of ESCCAP UK and Ireland, will present on the importance of testing protocols in diseases of imported dogs.

The meeting will provide attendees with an overview of emerging veterinary diseases with a particular focus on exotic parasites, and discuss the importance of accurate testing protocols and equipment, alongside a final Q&A session.

The webinar will take place on Thursday July 1, from 19.30pm to 21.00pm BST. For free registration and more information visit the Horiba website or