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Vets identify gene responsible for feline tooth resorption
The discovery follows an analysis of genetic material recovered from the teeth of 11 cats.
Blocking activity of the MMP9 gene could prevent condition from developing.

A team of vets at the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies say they have identified a gene responsible for causing feline tooth resorption - a common condition estimated to affect 20 to 60 per cent of all cats.

The discovery follows an analysis of genetic material recovered from the teeth of 11 cats, with permission of the animals' owners. Vets found more than 1,000 genes that had been active in teeth where resorption had occurred and therefore might be involved in the process. 

The team concentrated on one particular gene - the MMP9 gene - which produces a protein commonly found in areas of damaged tissue. In experiments using two different techniques to prevent activity in the gene, both approaches prevented the biological processes associated with tooth resorption.

Researchers say their findings, published in Scientific Reports, suggest that the MMP9 gene, and the protein it generates, are involved in causing tooth resorption. Blocking the action of this particular gene could, therefore, prevent the cell processes that lead to disease, they write.

Dr Seungmee Lee from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, explains: “This is a painful condition which affects virtually all mature cats, and currently there is no effective way to manage the disease other than removing affected teeth. By examining genes involved in the process it seems that if we stop the activity of the MMP9 gene, we may be able to prevent the condition from developing.” 

Currently, there are no treatments for tooth resorption other than extracting the affected teeth. Researchers say their discovery could inform new treatments for this condition and may also have implications for other conditions, such as the role of MMP9 in bone diseases.

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Avian flu outbreak at RSPB Minsmere

News Story 1
 RSPB Minsmere nature reserve in Suffolk has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on its site. The coastal nature reserve has seen an increase in dead birds recently, and has said that it is 'extremely concerned' about the potential impacts on bird populations, with 2021 and 2022 seeing the largest ever outbreak in the UK.

In a statement, RSPB said: "We appreciate that it is distressing, for both visitors and staff, to see dead or dying birds at our site but we ask that if visitors see any dead or unwell birds, they do not touch or go near them and that they report it to us at our Visitor Centre during its opening hours, or by emailing us on minsmere@rspb.org.uk outside of these times."  

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Moredun Foundation Award opens for applications

The 2022-2023 Moredun Foundation Award (MFA) is now open for members, with up to £2,000 available for successful applicants.

The MFA honours the contribution that education, teamwork, life experience, and travel have made to the understanding of cattle health and welfare. Through its charitable endeavours, Moredun offers its members the opportunity to pursue projects that support personal development.

The prize is open to a wide range of project applications, including those that include producing educational tools, conducting a small research project, or studying farming methods in other nations. For more information and to apply, visit moredun.org.uk