Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Treatment for ryegrass staggers proceeds apace

AgResearch scientists overcome first hurdle in finding treatment for ryegrass staggers

24 November 2008

Two AgResearch scientists’groundbreaking research into ryegrass staggers is featuring in the December issue of The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics – an American publication that focuses on novel discoveries in pharmacology.

The research done by Forage Scientists, Dr Julie Dalziel and Dr Sarah Finch and their teams, in collaboration with a group of US researchers, looks at how toxins cause ryegrass staggers. Through this research, which was funded by a grant from the Marsden Fund (Royal Society of NZ) to Drs Dalziel and Finch, scientists finally know the mechanism that causes this condition.

Ryegrass staggers is characterised by muscle tremors and poor muscle coordination. The disease was first reported in the 1880s and is thought to cost New Zealand agriculture $100 million annually in lost animal production.

Building on previous research by various scientists within AgResearch, Drs Dalziel and Finch have now discovered the biological receptor that the toxin acts on to cause this neurological disorder. “We knew the cause, but we didn’t know how the tremor-causing compounds were having their effect,” says Dr Finch.

Drs Finch and Dalziel focussed on an ion channel called the BK Channel. Ion channels are responsible for the electrical signalling that underlies movement, sensation and thought. An ion channel that has a specialized role in regulating this electrical signalling is the BK channel (large conductance calcium-activated potassium channel).

Dr Finch says through using mice that did not have BK channels (bred by their collaborators at Stanford University) they have discovered that without a BK channel the toxins didn’t have an effect on animals. She explains that the experiments involved giving mice lolitrem B (the toxin produced by the endophytic fungus). “Ordinary mice gave a tremor response similar to ryegrass staggers while mice without BK channels gave no response,”she says. “This discovery is of great significance and over a century after the first report of ryegrass staggers, the mechanism of tremor production is finally known. This means we can now start looking at ways to treat ryegrass staggers by reversing the effect or preventing it from happening altogether.”

Dr Dalziel says their findings also provide valuable insight into human disorders of motor function. “These findings could be useful from a pharmaceutical viewpoint, as they suggest new therapies for human neural dysfunction of tremor and impaired motor coordination and balance,” she says.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: Dairy Product Prices Decline To Lowest Since July 2012

Dairy product prices dropped to the lowest level since July 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by a slump in rennet casein and butter milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

SOE Results: TVNZ Lifts Annual Profit 25% On Flat Ad Revenue, Quits Igloo

Television New Zealand, the state-owned broadcaster, lifted annual profit 25 percent, ahead of forecast and despite a dip in advertising revenue, while quitting its stake in the pay-TV Igloo joint venture with Sky Network Television. More>>

ALSO:

Insurers Up For More Payouts: Chch Property Investor Wins Policy Appeal In Supreme Court

Ridgecrest NZ, a property investor, has won an appeal in the Supreme Court over insurance cover provided by IAG New Zealand for a Christchurch building damaged in four successive earthquakes. More>>

ALSO:

Other Cases:

Royal Society: Review Finds Community Water Fluoridation Safe And Effective

A review of the scientific evidence for and against the efficacy and safety of fluoridation of public water supplies has found that the levels of fluoridation used in New Zealand create no health risks and provide protection against tooth decay. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Croxley Calls Time On NZ Production In Face Of Cheap Imports

Croxley Stationery, whose stationery brands include Olympic, Warwick and Collins, plans to cease manufacturing in New Zealand because it has struggled to compete with lower-cost imports in a market where the printed word is giving way to electronic communications. More>>

ALSO:

Prefu Roundup: Forecasts Revised, Surplus Intact

The National government heads into the election with its Budget surplus target broadly intact, delivering a set of economic and fiscal forecasts marginally revised from May to reflect weaker commodity prices and a lower tax take. More>>

ALSO:

Convention Centre: Major New SkyCity Hotel And Laneway For Auckland

Today SKYCITY Entertainment Group Limited revealed plans to build a new hotel and pedestrian laneway of bars, restaurants and boutique shopping on land it owns in the Nelson and Hobson Streets block, expanding the SKYCITY Entertainment Precinct. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news