Scientists Incorporate Spider’s Silk-Spinning Genes Into Goats

Researchers from the University of Wyoming have developed a way to incorporate spiders’ silk-spinning genes into goats, allowing the researchers to harvest the silk protein from the goats’ milk for a variety of applications. For instance, due to its strength and elasticity, spider silk fiber could have several medical uses, such as for making artificial ligaments and tendons, for eye sutures, and for jaw repair. The silk could also have applications in bulletproof vests and improved car airbags.

Normally, getting enough spider silk for these applications requires large numbers of spiders. However, spiders tend to be territorial, so when the researchers tried to set up spider farms, the spiders killed each other.

To solve this problem, Randy Lewis, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Wyoming, and other researchers decided to put the spiders’ dragline silk gene into goats in such a way that the goats would only make the protein in their milk. Like any other genetic factor, only a certain percentage of the goats end up with the gene. For instance, of seven goat kids born in February 2010, three have tested positive for having the silk protein gene. When these transgenic goats have kids and start lactating, the researchers will collect the milk and purify the spider silk protein into “much, much higher quantities,” Lewis said.
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Study Gives Scientists A Sense Of How Animals Bond

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Scientists have pinpointed how a key hormone helps animals to recognise others by their smell.Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have shown that the hormone vasopressin helps the brain differentiate between familiar and new scents.The study, published in the journal Nature, suggests that when the hormone fails to function, animals are unable to recognise other individuals from their scent.

The ability to recognise others by smell is crucial in helping animals to establish strong bonds with other animals.The research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), may offer clues about the way people make emotional connections with others through smell and deepen our understanding of the role scent plays in memory.Many scientists think a failure in this recognition system in humans may prevent them from forming deep emotional bonds with others.
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Cat Owners More Educated Than Dog Owners

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Cats have long been thought to be cleverer than dogs – and now it seems the same is true of their owners. People with cats are more likely to have university degrees than those with dogs, according to a scientific survey of pet ownership.The study also revealed that the combined cat and dog population of Britain is more than 20.8 million – 50 per cent higher than previously thought. Researchers at the University of Bristol say that the superior intelligence of cat owners is unlikely to be caused by their exposure to the famously cunning and selfish pets.

Rather, more educated people tend to work longer hours and choose a pet to fit their lifestyles. Unlike dogs, cats require no walking and can manage with little human company.Dr Jane Murray, Cats Protection Lecturer in Feline Epidemiology, who led the study, said: “We don’t think it is associated with income because that was one of the variables we looked at, and there was little difference.

“Cats require less time per day than a dog, so they are more popular with educated people who work late and have long commutes.”Homes with degree-holders were 1.36 times more likely to have a cat than other households. The same homes were less likely to have a dog than households where no-one went to university.
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