CMVM Postgraduate Research Round-Up
Find out more about some of our biggest research breakthroughs of 2020 so far.
Brand new Large Animal Research Imaging Facility (LARIF) to boost research into animal and human health
A world-leading research facility that will provide unprecedented insights into livestock and human health has opened at the Vet School's Easter Bush campus.
The University of Edinburgh’s Large Animal Research Imaging Facility (LARIF) was officially opened by Professor John Loughhead CB OBE, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The LARIF will enhance food security through research aimed at producing livestock that are genetically more resistant to disease, and the development of improved vaccines for animals.
Research conducted at the facility will safeguard human health by helping to tackle food-borne infections and developing strategies against antimicrobial resistance. It will also advance efforts to develop treatments for diseases that affect humans, such as neurological conditions.
Development of this purpose-built facility is supported by a £25 million investment from the University of Edinburgh and the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), which includes £10.6 million of funding from Innovate UK.
Jim Jefferies helps to kick off new heart disease trial
Tynecastle legend Jim Jefferies has teamed up with the cardiologist who helped save his life to support a research study aiming to prevent heart attacks.
The former Hearts of Midlothian coach had a heart attack on the golf course in East Lothian last September and was treated at Royal Infirmary Edinburgh by Professor David Newby.
Professor Newby is launching a new study - called SCOT-HEART 2 – that seeks to recruit 6,000 people aged between 40-70 years old who are at increased risk from coronary heart disease. Researchers will compare two different ways of preventing heart problems to determine which is most effective.
Hearts and Hibernian Football Clubs will promote the scheme and encourage their fans to enrol as part of the University of Edinburgh study. Footballing greats Gary Locke and Pat Stanton joined Jim Jefferies and Professor Newby for a launch event at Tynecastle stadium.
Leaky vaccines play a greater role in the management of Marek's disease than previously thought
Vaccines that do not prevent onward transmission or infection are more effective than previously thought in controlling the severity of a viral disease in chickens.
So-called leaky vaccines were found to not only reduce the likelihood of chickens developing the painful symptoms of Marek’s disease, but this benefit also extended to unvaccinated chickens in the same flock, researchers said.
Chickens infected with Marek’s disease virus can develop tumours in various parts of the body, eye cancer, and wing and leg paralysis, eventually leading to death.
Marek’s disease has implications for animal welfare and the food production industry. It can lead to a reduction in egg laying and meat being deemed unfit for human consumption.
In our study, we found that leaky vaccines can provide benefit in terms of reducing the presence and severity of symptoms, and mortality, caused by Marek’s disease even for unvaccinated chickens. We need further research to understand how this effect changes as the virus mutates and in other strains of chickens.
Steroids could do more harm than good for coronavirus
Steroids should be avoided in the treatment of the current novel coronavirus, experts have advised.
A commentary article published in The Lancet concludes that, based on evidence from previous outbreaks of similar types of infection such as SARS, steroids provide little benefit to patients and could do more harm than good.
They say that clinicians should still administer the treatment for conditions such as asthma and other inflammatory diseases.
During this current coronavirus outbreak, clinicians are faced with some tough decisions on how to treat people who have been infected. After looking carefully at what evidence is available, we would advise that steroids should not be used for treatment of lung injury caused by this new virus. If steroids are used, it should be as part of a clinical trial so that we can find out if they are helping or harming patients.
VIKING II study seeks people with Northern Isles ancestry
People with at least two grandparents who were born in Orkney or Shetland are being asked to join a genetic study aimed at improving medical treatments.
Some 4,000 people will be invited to take part in the study, which will seek to better understand the causes of conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancer and others. Researchers hope the findings will lead to new treatments for these conditions.
The unique genetic identity of those with Northern Isles ancestry offers a rare opportunity to give a detailed picture on how genes are implicated in health.