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New insights into devastating cattle disease
Trypanosomiasis causes economic hardship through fever, anaemia and weight loss.
Finding could lead to new treatments for African trypanosomiasis.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute have gained fresh insights into the parasite that causes animal African trypanosome (AAT) infection, also known as sleeping sickness.

The study, published in PLOS Pathogens, reveals key differences in the biology of the Trypanosome congolense parasite, which causes infection in animals, compared with the closely related T. brucei, which affects humans.

Scientists hope their findings will lead to new drugs for AAT and support further studies into the T.congolese parasite, which is spread by biting flies and mainly affects cattle in sub-Saharan Africa.

The team also hopes that the findings will explain how drug resistance has hampered efforts to treat the disease. The same drugs have been used to manage infections for decades, and new therapies are urgently needed.

“The scale of animal African trypanosome infections is enormous, causing devastation to livestock, especially for cattle farmers,” explains Professor Liam Morrison of the Roslin Institute. “There are limited treatments available, and drug resistance is a significant problem. This research forms a valuable resource for the T. congolense parasite, which we hope will underpin more research to target this important pathogen.”

Trypanosomiasis is a chronic disease of livestock that causes fever, anaemia and weight loss. The condition is of most importance in cattle, but other animals, including dogs, can also be affected.

“Trypanosomiasis is a major problem for livestock owners in Africa, Asia and Latin America,” explains Michael Pearce from industry partner, GALVmed. “Developing new drug products is costly and it takes many years to develop and register safe and efficacious treatments.

“Understanding the metabolism of parasites such a trypanosomes helps researchers identify candidate molecules with the best chance of translation in to a successful treatment,” he said.

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World Bee Day celebrations begin

News Story 1
 Today (20 May) marks the fifth annual World Bee Day, which raises awareness of the importance of bees and pollinators to people and the planet. Observed on the anniversary of pioneering Slovenian beekeeper Anton Jana's birthday, this year's celebration is themed: 'Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems'.

Organisations and people celebrating the day will raise awareness of the accelerated decline in pollinator diversity, and highlight the importance of sustainable beekeeping systems and a wide variety of bees. Slovenia, the initiator of World Bee Day, will be focusing on teaching young people about the significance of pollinators. 

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Further avian flu cases confirmed

Three cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in recent days, bringing the total number of cases in England to 98.

On Thursday, the APHA confirmed two cases of HPAI H5N1 near Redgrave, Mid Suffolk and Market Weston, West Suffolk. A case H5N1 was also confirmed in poultry at a premises near Southwell, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire.

Protection and surveillance zones are in place around the affected premises. Further details are available at gov.uk