Devil vaccine a step closer

Greg Woods and Bruce Lyons.

Greg Woods and Bruce Lyons.

The results of an international study published recently in Scientific Reports has confirmed the fatal facial tumour disease that has decimated populations of Tasmanian devils in the wild for over 20 years, can be cured using immunotherapy.

Led by the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research, the study involved scientists from the Universities of Sydney, Southampton, Southern Denmark and Cambridge, as well as those from UTAS’s School of Medicine, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, and CSL Ltd.

The aim of the study was to ‘explore immunisation protocols to enhance protective responses against DFTD’, but due to devils’ endangered status, only a limited number of animals are available for research purposes. This five-year trial, that tested four immunisation protocols sequentially, was therefore restricted to nine healthy and genetically different animals, some of which had reached an advanced age. Continue reading Devil vaccine a step closer

Australian Turf Club inquiry launched

Stewards from Racing NSW have opened an inquiry in to alleged animal cruelty by the Mounted Division of the Australian Turf Club (ATC).

Allegations of mistreatment, illegal sedation and cruelty to horses surfaced in a Sydney Morning Herald report last month.

Racing NSW began to act following a mid-January incident at the Falls Music & Arts Festival near Byron Bay, where a horse and its female rider were injured.

Six horses at the centre of the allegations have been transported from their Centennial Park stable to a spelling farm while the investigation is in progress.

Horses in the ATC’s Mounted Division are retrained from racehorses retrained for everyday life. Continue reading Australian Turf Club inquiry launched

Outcry over Massey chancellor’s ‘sexist’ comments

kelly-chris-chancellorMassey University chancellor Chris Kelly has been criticised over comments reported in Rural News which claimed a woman graduate was of less worth than a full-time vet.

The article also contained news of Massey’s plan to add practical aspects of farming and veterinary work into degrees from 2019, highlighting the University’s focus on agriculture, a move to combat claims that while new graduates are academically qualified, they lack practical ability.

In the article, Kelly said the majority of veterinary students and graduates at the University were women, and that more women students proceed to second year.

“That’s because women mature earlier than men, work hard and pass,” he said. “When I went through vet school, many years ago, it was dominated by men; today it’s dominated by women. That’s fine, but the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a full-time equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family, which is normal. So, though we’re graduating a lot of vets, we’re getting a high fallout rate later on,” Continue reading Outcry over Massey chancellor’s ‘sexist’ comments

Veterinary business groups to merge

The Australian Veterinary Association has announced that its practice management special interest group, AVAPM, will be joining forces with the Australian Veterinary Business Association (AVBA) from 1 January 2017.

Amalgamation will create the Veterinary Business Group, a new body which will become part of the AVA, and will provide support to veterinary practice managers.

“This move is an . . . → Read More: Veterinary business groups to merge

Signs shown of genetic resistance to DFTD

Research by an international team of scientists, published at the end of August in the journal Nature Communications, shows two regions in the genomes of Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) appear to be evolving in response to the fatal facial tumour disease that has ravaged populations in the wild for almost 20 years.

Evolutionary geneticist Andrew Storfer from Washington State University, and geneticist Paul Hohenlohe from the University of Idaho, compared tissue samples collected from Tasmanian devils by Menna Jones over a 17-year period. An Associate Professor and wildlife ecologist at the University of Tasmania, Jones is credited with first identifying DFTD during the mid-1990s, and she subsequently established long-term field sites to study the animals. In less than 20 years populations of devils in the wild have declined by more than 80 per cent.

Jones, who is a co-author of the paper, said two small genomic regions were identified in the recently collected DNA samples from three sites: Narawntapu in Tasmania’s north-east, West Pencil Pine in western Tasmania’s Cradle Valley, and Freycinet, on the east coast. They all exhibited significant changes in response to the strong selection imposed by the disease. Continue reading Signs shown of genetic resistance to DFTD