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Tail-chasing is widely celebrated as normal canine behaviour in cultural references. However, all previous scientific studies of tail-chasing or 'spinning' have comprised small clinical populations of dogs with neurological, compulsive or other pathological conditions; most were ultimately euthanased. Thus, there is great disparity between scientific and public information on tail-chasing. I gathered data on the first large (n=400), non-clinical tail-chasing population, made possible through a vast, free, online video repository, YouTube™. The demographics of this online population are described and discussed. Approximately one third of tail-chasing dogs showed clinical signs, including habitual (daily or 'all the time') or perseverative (difficult to distract) performance of the behaviour. These signs were observed across diverse breeds. Clinical signs appeared virtually unrecognised by the video owners and commenting viewers; laughter was recorded in 55% of videos, encouragement in 43%, and the commonest viewer descriptors were that the behaviour was 'funny' (46%) or 'cute' (42%). Habitual tail-chasers had 6.5+/-2.3 times the odds of being described as 'Stupid' than other dogs, and perseverative dogs were 6.8+/-2.1 times more frequently described as 'Funny' than distractible ones were. Compared with breed- and age-matched control videos, tail-chasing videos were significantly more often indoors and with a computer/television screen switched on. These findings highlight that tail-chasing is sometimes pathological, but can remain untreated, or even be encouraged, because of an assumption that it is 'normal' dog behaviour. The enormous viewing figures that YouTube™ attracts (mean+/-s.e.=863+/-197 viewings per tail-chasing video) suggest that this perception will be further reinforced, without effective intervention. © 2011 Charlotte C. Burn. Source

Wells D.J.,The Royal Veterinary College
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences | Year: 2011

The new Directive 2010/63/EU to ensure harmonization of animal experimentation rules has potential to increase implementation of the 3Rs (reduce, refine, replace) and improve animal welfare across Europe. © 2011 New York Academy of Sciences. Source

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.56M | Year: 2015

The aim is to create an innovative European PhD training network in bone pain. Millions in Europe and beyond suffer from bone pain, a debilitating complication of many musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis and bone metastasis. However, being a truly multidisciplinary subject spanning neuroscience, bone biology, and even cancer research, it demands a multidisciplinary approach. Despite a huge negative impact on the quality of life of the patients and on society as a whole, no specific treatment is available. To address this societal challenge and the strong innovation potential, we want to form the first European platform to promote frontline research, innovation and education within bone pain. The network encompasses 5 academic and 2 industrial beneficiaries and 1 industrial partner all committed to creating an outstanding wide-ranging yet integrated training program for early stages researchers to elucidate the mechanisms of bone pain and develop new medicines. We will use in vivo models of arthritic pain, cancer-induced bone pain and fracture pain to investigate the pathophysiology and novel treatment strategies. In vivo electrophysiology will be used for studying the physiology and pharmacology of pain transmission and its modulation. Transgenic mouse models will be used to tease out the specific neuronal receptor subtypes involved. Sophisticated behaviour tests will evaluate response to novel treatments. We will create a biobank of human cancer-infiltrated bone to identify specific patterns of neuronal receptor expression and to validate therapeutic targets in humans. In an extensive training effort covering both specific research skills and transferable skills, the students will obtain an interdisciplinary, state-of-the-art and innovative training from the participants, several of which have experience from international networks. The students will benefit from secondments with industrial partners and with some of the foremost pain researchers in Europe.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-EF-CAR | Phase: MSCA-IF-2015-EF | Award Amount: 195.45K | Year: 2016

Genetic selection for high yielding dairy cows has been associated with reduced fertility. Infertility remains the major reason for culling, decreasing longevity and reducing production efficiency. We propose that this trend could be reversed by identifying key genes involving reproductive function and selective breeding of more longlasting cows. The specific research objectives are: 1) to train the incoming researcher in bioinformatics methodologies related to analysis of large genomic datasets including SNP detection, genotyping, and evolutionary conserved DNA elements detection; 2) to use the methodologies to analyse dairy phenotypic and genomic data to highlight potential genic and regulatory regions of the cattle genome containing polymorphisms which are beneficial, with a particular focus on fertility; 3) to use appropriate tools to investigate the likely effects of both coding and regulatory variants on the expression of the candidate genes found in these regions; 4) to use pathway analysis to understand how the candidate genes may influence key molecular events and larger gene networks involved in reproductive phenotypes; 5) to recommend appropriate selection procedures to the EU dairy breeding industry to supplement current genomic methods. The project combines the expertise of Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e lanalisi dellEconomia agraria, Italy (CREA) and the Royal Veterinary College, UK (RVC) in farm animal genetics and genomics and dairy cow production. The objectives will be met by the mobility of Dr L Buggiotti to the UK, where she will work closely alongside two senior RVC scientists, Dr DM Larkin and Professor DC Wathes. She will transfer this expertise back to CREA on her return. Both groups are experienced in knowledge transfer to the dairy industry and are committed to use the information generated to breed more fertile cows, so improving longevity and promoting sustainability of the EU dairy industry.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-EF-ST | Phase: MSCA-IF-2015-EF | Award Amount: 183.45K | Year: 2016

How tetrapods (vertebrates with digit-bearing limbs) became terrestrial is one of the most transformative yet enigmatic events in vertebrate history that set the stage for the diversification of tetrapods thereafter. Being on land imposes physical demands on the musculoskeletal system and weak bones can severely limit the capabilities of animals, yet the importance of bone strength in the evolution of terrestrial locomotion is not well understood. The proposed research integrates innovative approaches on the limbs of an early stem tetrapod, Ichthyostega, in order to: 1) quantify how well the limb bones in an early stem tetrapod could support locomotion on land, 2) compare the differences between the fore- and hindlimb bone mechanics, and 3) test the prevailing hypothesis that early stem tetrapods walked like extant salamanders. An interdisciplinary synthesis of cutting-edge techniques in engineering, 3D biomedical imaging, palaeontology, and biomechanics will be used to test the structural integrity of fossil limb bones in silico. Bone strength will be quantified with high-resolution -CT scans and finite element analysis, an engineering approach to estimate stresses and deformations in complex structures in response to physical demands. This novel dataset will address the ability of Ichthyostega to move on land, and what types of locomotor behaviours were not possible for an early stem tetrapod on land. Simultaneously, training and research activities in state-of-the-art engineering and 3D technology, evolutionary biomechanics, and public outreach will foster the development of the Experienced Researcher (ER) into an innovative and broadly trained researcher and science communicator. At a broader scale, tracing back the evolutionary steps to becoming terrestrial yields powerful insights into the tetrapod body plan, informing how ecological transitions influence functional innovation and how human anatomy is influenced by our ancestry from aquatic tetrapods.

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