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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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New road sign to protect small wildlife

News Story 1
 Transport secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled a new road sign to help cut traffic accidents and protect small wildlife, particularly hedgehogs.

Local authorities and animal welfare groups are being asked to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign - which features a hedgehog - should be located.

Government figures show that more than 600 people were injured in road accidents involving animals in 2017, and four people were killed. These figures do not include accidents involving horses. The new sign will be used to warn motorists in areas where there are large concentrations of small wild animals, including squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.  

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NOAH members re-elect Jamie Brannan as chair

Jamie Brannan, senior Vice President of Zoetis, has been re-elected as chair of NOAH for 2019/20, during this year’s AGM, held in London.

Mr Brannan joined Zoetis and the NOAH board in 2016, becoming NOAH’s vice-chair in 2018 and replacing Gaynor Hillier as chair later that year.

He commented: “I am extremely pleased to have been elected by the NOAH membership and am proud to be able to represent our industry at such a critical time for the UK animal health industry. I look forward to driving forward our new NOAH Strategy and to working with our members, old and new, in the coming year.”