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UK scientists edit chicken genes to make them resistant to bird flu

4 June 2019, at 9:00am

Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh have created chicken cells that were unable to replicate the bird flu virus after exposure.

According to reporting from Reuters, scientists at Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have used gene editing technology to prevent bird flu spreading in chicken cells grown in a lab. This finding represents a key step in making genetically modified chickens that could stop a human flu pandemic.

The avian influenza virus can spread quickly in wild birds and poultry, and on occasion can infect humans. Influenza, especially strains that can infect both birds and humans, can be highly transmissible and is therefore a major concern for epidemiologists and global health specialists.

In this study, researchers edited a section of chicken DNA in lab-grown cells and exposed the cells to a bird flu virus. Results from the experiments demonstrated that the edited cells did not contain the bird flu virus after exposure.

The next step for the researchers will be attempting to produce chickens with the same genetic resistance. The full report will be published in the scientific journal eLife.

You can read more about this story here, and read the research proposal here.