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Chicken Feed Including Bird Flu Vaccine

by 5m Editor
20 January 2009, at 8:31am

HONG KONG - Using genetically modified (GM) rice, scientists believe thay may be able to produce poultry feed with a vaccine against H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Hong Kong scientists say they have created a GM rice that provides protection for chickens from the bird flu virus, reports Earth Times. The rice contains genetic material from the traditional Chinese medicine plant called yuzhu, which has been found to inhibit the growth of viruses such as the deadly H5N1.

However, it has not yet been tested outside the laboratory or on live birds because of safety concerns over the virus which has killed 248 people since 2003, according to figures of the World Health Organisation.

Scientists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong say they have produced a small quantity of the modified grain containing the yuzhu material, which had been tested in a laboratory dish in a solution with monkey cells and the H5N1 virus.

"During the experiment, the grain prevented the monkey cell from being destroyed by the virus," said research team leader, Samuel Sun Sai-ming.

Professor Sun said they were now looking to take their research to the next stage of testing it on birds. However, they were finding it difficult because farms and universities were unwilling to host the experiment.

"It's hard to meet the safety requirements for such an experiment," Professor Sun told Earth Times.

He added that they had contacted some universities in mainland China to try to find somewhere to do the experiment and were awaiting responses.

The team comprises scientists from Hong Kong and mainland China working at the university State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology.

The laboratory was set up with the China Agricultural University to research improvements in agricultural productivity and nutrition.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.