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Stem cell approach 'more ethical' in pig infection study
"This novel technique could help improve understanding of how infectious agents interact with the immune system of farmed animals" - Dr Stephen Meek.
Researchers at The Roslin Institute have explored the technique to produce unlimited macrophages.

New research by the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute has suggested that a stem cell approach is more affordable, practical and ethical than standard approaches for research into pig infections.

Using immune cells produced from stem cells will allow investigations access to an unlimited amount of macrophages, a type of immune cell, which can easily be manipulated and infected by viruses and bacteria for study.

In reducing the necessity of animals in research, and replacing the conventional procedure using macrophages extracted from slaughtered animals, researchers say that the stem cell approach is more cost-effective.

The stem cell approach could be used to produce virus for the development of live vaccines against diseases such as African swine fever.

Dr Tom Burdon, senior research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Macrophages are the first line of defence against infection, but in some cases pathogens target these cells and destroy them.

“It is not yet understood how that happens. We found that viruses replicated efficiently in macrophages derived from stem cells, showing that these cells are a great approach to learn about interactions between pig genetics and the biology of viruses or other pathogens.”

Dr Stephen Meek added: “This novel technique could help improve understanding of how infectious agents interact with the immune system of farmed animals, which ultimately can contribute to prevent disease spread and pandemics, improve animal welfare, and reduce the use of animals in research.”

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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