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Gene-edited chickens are resistant to avian flu

Posted October. 12, 2023 09:53,   

Updated October. 12, 2023 09:53


British researchers have used gene editing techniques to create the world’s first flu-resistant chickens.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and Imperial College London have used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to make chickens resistant to bird flu. The study was published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.

The researchers bred chickens using gene-editing techniques to alter the ANP32A protein related to the spread of the avian flu virus. When the birds matured, the team exposed them to avian flu, and nine out of 10 remained uninfected. Half of the birds infected in the group were exposed to a flu dose that was 1,000 times higher. However, the researchers found that the chickens were generally shed lower levels of the virus than control chickens exposed to the same high dose.

The researchers are working to ensure that the edited genes provide chickens with perfect immunity to enable commercialization, as imperfect immunization will only facilitate virus mutation. If chickens have an imperfect virus resistant, the virus may evolve, leading to even more fatal infections. The researchers plan to create chickens with edits in all the genes for the protein family, which is related to avian flu, within three years.