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Gene-edited chicken cells prevent spread of avian flu
The team stopped the virus from spreading by removing a section of chicken DNA inside laboratory-grown cells.

Findings increase likelihood of producing gene-edited chickens

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have used gene editing techniques to prevent avian influenza virus spreading in laboratory-grown chicken cells.

Researchers say the findings increase the likelihood of producing gene-edited chickens that are resistant to the disease.

The team stopped the virus from spreading by removing a section of chicken DNA inside laboratory-grown cells. The next step will be to produce chickens with the genetic change.

“This is an important advance that suggests we may be able to use gene-editing techniques to produce chickens that are resistant to bird flu,” said Dr Mike McGrew, of the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute. “We haven’t produced any birds yet and we need to check if the DNA change has any other effects on the bird cells before we can take this next step.”

In the study, scientists targeted a specific molecule inside chicken cells called ANP32A. Researchers at Imperial College London found that influenza viruses hijack this molecule during an infection to help replicate themselves.

Together with scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, the researchers then used gene-editing techniques to delete the section of DNA responsible for producing ANP32A. They found that the avian flu virus was not able to grow inside cells with the genetic change.

“Avian influenza resistance in broiler production is of global significance and this research is an important step toward that goal," commented Rachel Hawken of Cobb-Vantress, which provided the PhD student funding for the project.

"It is exciting for Cobb to be a part of exploring new technologies that could be used to advance poultry breeding in the future.”

 

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Pair of endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Colchester Zoo

News Story 1
 Keepers at Colchester Zoo are hailing the arrival of a pair of critically endangered Amur leopard cubs.

The cubs were born to first-time parents Esra and Crispin on the 9 September. This is the first time the Zoo has bred Amur leopard cubs on-site.

Amur leopards originate from the Russian Far East and north-east China. In the wild they are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade.

The cubs are said to be “looking well” and are expected to emerge from their den in a few weeks.  

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News Shorts
BEVA survey seeks views about antibiotic use in horses

Equine vets are being invited to participate in a BEVA survey that aims to find out more about antimicrobial resistance in equine veterinary practice.

Designed by researchers at the University of Liverpool and incoming BEVA president Tim Mair, the survey aims to fill gaps in knowledge about how antimicrobials are being used in equine practice and the landscape of resistant infections encountered in equine practice.

Researchers hope the results will lead to a greater understanding of the role of antimicrobial treatment and antimicrobial resistance in horses and protect antibiotics for the future of equine and human health.