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Success Stories from The Animal Health Trust

last modified Aug 18, 2017 02:48 PM

The Cambridge BBSRC DTP Programme is proud to include The Animal Health Trust as one of it's external partner institutions. Inclusion of the Trust within the DTP Partnership has provided unique and fulfilling experiences for our PhD students.


Congratulations to Amelia (Amy) Charbonneau, 2014 cohort PhD student in the BBSRC DTP Programme, for publishing the paper Defining the ABC of gene essentiality in streptococci in BMC Genomics.


Utilising next generation sequencing to interrogate saturated bacterial mutant libraries provides unprecedented information for the assignment of genome-wide gene essentiality. Exposure of saturated mutant libraries to specific conditions and subsequent sequencing can be exploited to uncover gene essentiality relevant to the condition. Here we present a barcoded transposon directed insertion-site sequencing (TraDIS) system to define aessential gene list for Streptococcus equi subsp. equi, the causative agent of strangles in horses, for the first time. Thgene essentiality data for this group C Streptococcus was compared to that of group A and B streptococci.

Read the full paper.

Amy is currently identifying better vaccine targets for the prevention of Strangles in the lab of Dr Andrew Waller at the AHT. As part of the BBSRC DTP Programme she completed rotation projects at the AHT and in the Department of Veterinary Medicine with Dr Anaid Diaz. Amy is the 2014 cohort Student Representative and will soon be undertaking an internship at Entomics Biosystems Ltd.


Congratulations to Yasmin Paterson, 2016 cohort PhD student, for publishing the paper Characterization of companion animal pluripotent stem cells in Cytometry.


Pluripotent stem cells have the capacity to grow indefinitely in culture and differentiate into derivatives of the three germ layers. These properties underpin their potential to be used in regenerative medicine. Originally derived from early embryos, pluripotent stem cells can now be derived by reprogramming an adult cell back to a pluripotent state. Companion animals such as horses, dogs, and cats suffer from many injuries and diseases for which regenerative medicine may offer new treatments. As many of the injuries and diseases are similar to conditions in humans the use of companion animals for the experimental and clinical testing of stem cell and regenerative medicine products would provide relevant animal models for the translation of therapies to the human field. In order to fully utilize companion animal pluripotent stem cells robust, standardized methods of characterization must be developed to ensure that safe and effective treatments can be delivered. In this review we discuss the methods that are available for characterizing pluripotent stem cells and the techniques that have been applied in cells from companion animals. We describe characteristics which have been described consistently across reports as well as highlighting discrepant results. Significant steps have been made to define the in vitro culture requirements and drive lineage specific differentiation of pluripotent stem cells in companion animal species. However, additional basic research to compare pluripotent stem cell types and define characteristics of pluripotency in companion animal species is still required.

Read the full paper.

Yasmin is currently characterising embryonic stem cell-derived tenocytes and defining the changing role of scleraxis during tendon development in the lab of Dr Debbie Guest at the AHT. As part of the BBSRC DTP Programme she completed rotation projects at the AHT and in the Department of Biochemistry with Dr Jasmin Fisher. Read about Yasmin's experiences in the University of Glasgow MSci programme and how it led to her doing a PhD at the Animal Health Trust here.