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Council defends ordering lynx killing

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FOLLOWING the killing of Lillith the escaped Lynx from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom on Friday night (Nov 10), Ceredigion County Council has defended the actions.

The lynx had missing from the zoo since October 29 and had been spotted in populated areas before the decision to kill it was made.

In response, Borth Wild Animal Kingdom said they were ‘truly devastated and outraged’ by the decision.

A spokesperson for Ceredigion County Council said: “The decision to authorise the putting down of the Eurasian Lynx that recently escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom was an operational one taken after receiving expert advice, based on the level of risk to members of the public. All options for dealing with the escaped Lynx had been considered prior to the decision being taken on what was agreed to be a proportionate, reasonable and swift course of action.

“The decision to proceed was taken with the support of Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police, the Welsh Government and the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales. The Lynx had been on the loose for more than two weeks, was known to have moved away from the proximity of the zoo. The Lynx has also encroached on a populated area, but was not afraid of humans.

“It was not possible to assess the condition or temperament of the Lynx but there were concerns about its likely behavioural response if it was startled or inadvertently confronted by a member of the public, especially by a young child. It must be remembered that the Lynx is classified in legislation as ‘dangerous and wild’ and the authorities were dealing with an unmanaged, escape situation.

“When the operational arrangements were being considered, the issue of tranquilising the creature were specifically discussed. Due to the nature of the terrain and vegetation in the area, the time it would take for the sedative to take effect and the uncertainty of how the Lynx would react, the expert advice was that tranquilising the Lynx was not an option. On other occasions and in different circumstances it may be fitting to attempt to tranquilise an escaped animal but, based on the factors involved with this incident, it was decided that it was not appropriate.

“The advice of the Council’s expert veterinary practitioner and the position of the Chief Veterinary Officer was certain in this regards. While the Council would have wished for a different outcome to this incident, to protect public safety, the Council had no option other than to take decisive action.

“An investigation has commenced into the circumstances surrounding the escape of the Lynx, to establish whether there have been any breaches of the operating licence and other related matters. While enquiries are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further on the circumstances surrounding this matter.”

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Police trying to track stolen tanker

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of a fuel tanker containing approximately 8,500 litres of diesel (4,000 litres of red diesel and 4,500 litres of white diesel).

The vehicle was taken from Tan Y Foel Quarry, Cefn Coch, Welshpool, between 5.30pm on Wednesday, May 23 and 6am on Thursday, May 24.

The police are asking people to see if the tanker is now in this area.

Anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908, quoting Ref: DPP/0006/24/05/2018/01/C.

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Reprogrammed virus offers hope as cancer treatment

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A CANCER treatment that can completely destroy cancer cells without affecting healthy cells could soon be a possibility, thanks to research led by Cardiff University.

The team of researchers has successfully ‘trained’ a respiratory virus to recognise ovarian cancer and completely destroy it without infecting other cells. The reprogrammed virus could also be used to treat other cancers such as breast, pancreatic, lung and oral.

Dr Alan Parker from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine said: “Reprogrammed viruses are already being used in gene therapy procedures to treat a range of diseases, demonstrating they can be trained from being life-threatening into potentially lifesaving agents.

“In cancer treatment, up until now, reprogrammed viruses have not been able to selectively recognise only the cancer cells and would also infect healthy cells, resulting in unwanted side effects.

“We’ve taken a common, well-studied virus and completely redesigned it so that it can no longer attach to non-cancerous cells but instead seeks out a specific marker protein called αvβ6 integrin, which is unique to certain cancer cells, allowing it to invade them.

“In this case we introduced the reprogrammed virus to ovarian cancer which it successfully identified and destroyed.

“This is an exciting advance, offering real potential for patients with a variety of cancers.”

Once the virus enters the cancer cell it uses the cell’s machinery to replicate, producing many thousands of copies of itself, prior to bursting the cell and thereby destroying it in the process. The newly released viral copies can then bind and infect neighbouring cancer cells and repeat the same cycle, eventually removing the tumour mass altogether.

The virus also activates the body’s natural immune system, helping it to recognise and destroy the malignant cells.

The reprogrammed virus is from a group of respiratory viruses called adenoviruses. The advantage of using these viruses is that they are relatively easy to manipulate and have already been safely used in cancer treatment.

The technique used to reprogramme the virus to identify the protein common to ovarian, breast, pancreatic, lung and oral cancers could also be used to manipulate it so that it would recognise proteins common to other groups of cancers.

Additional refinement to the viral DNA could also allow the virus to produce anticancer drugs, such as antibodies, during the process of infecting cancer cells. This effectively turns the cancer into a factory producing drugs that will cause its own destruction.

The research was carried out in a laboratory, using mice with ovarian cancer, and has not yet reached clinical trials. The next step is to test the technique with other cancers, with a view to starting clinical trials in five years’ time.

Dr Catherine Pickworth from Cancer Research UK said: “It’s encouraging to see that this virus, which has been modified to recognise markers on cancer cells, has the ability to infect and kill ovarian cancer cells in the lab. Viruses are nature’s nanotechnology and harnessing their ability to hijack cells is an area of growing interest in cancer research.

“The next step will be more research to see if this could be a safe and effective strategy to use in people.”

The team includes researchers from Cardiff University; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA; Glasgow University; the South West Wales Cancer Institute; and Velindre Cancer Centre.

The research was funded by Cancer Research UK, Tenovus Cancer Care and Cancer Research Wales.

The paper ‘Ad5NULL-A20 – a tropism-modified, αvβ6 integrin-selective oncolytic adenovirus for epithelial ovarian cancer therapies’ is published in Clinical Cancer Research.

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Money raised by Canolfan Padarn in the Race for Life

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STAFF and service users from Canolfan Padarn took part in this year’s Race for Life which took place on Sunday, May 13.

Service users Debbie, Lowri and Donna had been training for months as part of the centre’s healthy lifestyle group and were joined by staff members Lina, Ellie-May, Heather, Jenny, Dawn and Anwen, along with Heather’s daughter Cala, and Anwen’s daughter Jena.

Canolfan Padarn Support Worker Ellie-May Watkins said: “The crowd gave the crew great support and we’re grateful to everyone who cheered us on. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Queens Road Bowling Club for use of their facilities on the day. Previously, Canolfan Padarn raised £330 for Cancer research, we hope that we will match or exceed that in sponsorship this year.”

Canolfan Padarn is a community resource base for adults with learning disabilities in Aberystwyth, offering social, leisure and work opportunities in the local area.

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