Science Interviews


Mon, 23rd Dec 2013

Scientists studying sheep?

Professor Russell Snell, Auckland University

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Naked Neuroscience, Down Under

Hannah -   Scientists are studying this remarkable brain, this remarkable gene and how its involved in leading to Huntington's with these expansions of the CAG repeats in quite unusual and remarkable animals......

Russell -   Yeah, why sheep?  I grew up in a farm in New Zealand.  Sheep are Dolly the sheepdocile, but also intelligent.  They've got big brains.  I could see models wondering around a paddock, eating grass and living an ordinary sheep life until we wanted to look at their brains.  And so, it seemed to me, at least for these slight onset neurodegenerative diseases or Huntington's disease, is that we could make an ethical model where they live a normal sheep life until they don't, if that makes sense.  So, that is just the ethical line that I draw.  We knew something about the sheep brain structure and actually how to manage them in a farming situation.  Were good at looking after sheep.  Were good at understanding sheep.  So, its a combination of things.  The sheep genome or the sheep gene is a little bit closer to human.  Also, we knew that we could do behavioural things for sheep because sheep have behaviours or we imagine we could but Jenny has really taken it to a major different level.  Well, shes done an incredible job there.




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