Early canine cancer succes

IMG_1169A University of Queensland trial of a new injectable treatment for canine cancer has shown early results in slowing down and ultimately reversing the growth of a tumour.

UQ PhD candidate and veterinarian Moira Brennan said the vaccine was in the early stages of testing and had apparently worked for its first patient, a dog with an inoperable terminal mast cell tumour.

The treatment, which stimulates an immune response in the tumour, has been tolerated exceedingly well in the first dog trialled – a rottweiler named Jackson,” Brennan said.

We were pleased that Jackson’s tumour, which had failed to respond to traditional chemotherapy, appears to have disappeared as a result of this experimental treatment.”

The long-term effects of the treatment are unknown, and Brennan is recruiting other dogs with untreatable mast cell tumour or malignant melanoma to join this trial. Continue reading Early canine cancer succes

UQ’s batty breakthrough

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Bryan Fry: Picture UQ

Venom from vampire bats and other creatures is providing the basis for medical breakthroughs following the discovery of various ways bats can prevent blood clots.

The University of Queensland’s Professor Bryan Fry is leading an international team who have discovered new types of anticoagulants and new compounds that open arteries to assist blood flow.

Fry said the venom of the common vampire bat from Central and South America has much potential for use in drug development for treatment of stroke, heart disease and other ailments.

“The key to what we’re doing is the fact that I collect the venomous animals myself,” he said.

“Whenever possible I don’t purchase them, which is quite different from most biochemists who buy the venom, and they’re essentially all working on the same stuff.

“The biological reality is that they might miss the subtlety, because when you find venomous animals in the wild there will be ecological differences and differences in diet, vegetation and prey; thus they will be useful in different ways.”

Fry said when he was studying honours, he worked with viper venom which had a compound with potent cancer-fighting properties, “about 50 times stronger” than similar compounds of different populations of the same animal.

Synthetic version of the compounds studied by Fry and his team could be created for tests in further studies and drug production. Continue reading UQ’s batty breakthrough

Microclimatic conditions and their effects on sheep behavior during a live export shipment from Australia to the Middle East

The microclimate can potentially impact the health and welfare of livestock exported by ship. Within-pen microclimatic conditions were recorded, and the effects of ammonia on sheep behaviour investigated on a voyage from Australia to the Middle East. Ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide, as well as wet-bulb, dry-bulb, and dew-point temperature and air speed, were mapped . . . → Read More: Microclimatic conditions and their effects on sheep behavior during a live export shipment from Australia to the Middle East

Birdie braces

Macaw beak 016For some, the word orthodontist stirs awkward teenage memories of braces and the agonising wait to be rid of mouth metal. But humans aren’t the only species requiring some orthodontic alignment.

University of Queensland Small Animal Hospital Head of Avian and Exotic Pet Service, avian specialist and exotics luminary Bob Doneley is occasionally called upon to fit what he calls “birdie braces” for beaks that have gone awry.

Wry beak, or scissor beak, as it is known among bird circles, is a condition predominantly of juvenile birds, where the maxillary beak begins to deviate laterally – usually (for unknown reasons) to the right.

As a consequence, mandibular keratin tends to proliferate, unchecked by natural wear that would occur in the case of perfect beak alignment, and pushes upwards. This places additional pressure on the maxillary beak, worsening the defect.

“It is probably more common in macaws than other species but any bird can get it,” Doneley said. This includes ostriches which, due to their sheer size, can present with spectacular cases of wry beak. (Doneley’s ostrich practice once extended from Kingaroy to Tenterfield, and from the Gold Coast to St George – so he’s seen a few ostriches in his time). Doneley has also seen the condition in eclectus parrots. Continue reading Birdie braces

Japanese vets explore up-skilling, Downunder

A number of Japanese veterinarians have attended a two day neurosurgical workshop at the University of Queensland (UQ).

The event was hosted from July 20-21 by VetPrac, an organisation that provides practical skills training for registered veterinarians in clinical practice.

VetPrac director Ilana Mendels coordinated the workshop over six months, liaising with UQ and Philip Moses, president of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists.

The workshop covered spinal surgery and including topics such as thoracolumbar disc disease, lumbosacral disease, atlanto-axial stabilization techniques, ventral slot and spinal fractures.

Mendels found the hospital grade surgical facilities of UQ’s Clinical Studies Centre and the veterinary technicians on hand ideal for the workshop.

“It’s great to use the facilities and show them off internationally,” she said. Continue reading Japanese vets explore up-skilling, Downunder