Scientists Genetically Edit Chicken Cells To Stop Bird-Flu
Group of researchers at Imperial College London & the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute together have successfully used gene editing methods to prevent spreading of bird-flu in chicken cells in laboratory conditions. This finding could mark the beginning of production of genetically-altered chickens – that could stop the bird-flu human pandemic worldwide.
Bird flu viruses currently are known to spread quickly in wild birds and poultry and can occasionally jump into humans. International medical & infectious disease specialists cite this as one of their biggest concerns – a threat of a human flu pandemic brought on by a bird flu strain that jumps & mutates to a mortal and airborne form which could pass easily between people.
By editing a section of chicken DNA within the lab-grown cells, investigators averted the bird influenza virus by taking hold of the cells and replicating.
The following step will be to attempt to produce chickens with the exact same genetic change, stated Mike McGrew of the Roslin Institute, who co-led the research. The findings were due to be published in the scientific journal eLife on June 4.
“This is an important advancement that indicates we may have the ability to use gene-editing methods to produce chickens that are resistant to bird flu,” McGrew said in a statement.
“We have not produced any genetically altered chickens yet and we will need to check if the DNA change has any other impacts on the bird cells until we can take this next step.” he further added.
In the additional work, the team hopes to utilize the gene editing technologies, known as CRISPR, to eliminate a section of the birds’ DNA accountable for generating a protein named ANP32, where flu viruses depend to infect a host.
Laboratory evaluations of cells engineered to lack the gene demonstrated they resist the flu virus – blocking its entrance and stopping its replication and spread.
Wendy Barclay, professor and chair in influenza virology in Imperial who worked with McGrew, says the idea behind developing gene-edited flu-resistant hens would be to be able” to stop another flu pandemic at its source”.
And she explained the work thus far was showing promise: “We have identified the smallest possible genetic change we can make to chickens which may help stop the virus taking hold”.