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DNA discovery could help treat Marek's disease
Scientists identified regions of chicken DNA that are seen to play a role in disease resistance.
Scientists identify genetic regions in chickens associated with resistance.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute have identified regions of chicken DNA associated with resistance to Marek's disease.

Scientists say the discovery, reported in the journal Genes, could pave the way to new therapies or techniques to manage the condition, which costs the global poultry industry some US$ 2 billion every year.The findings also reveal details behind susceptibility to the virus, which could lead to more precise selective breeding strategies.

“Marek’s disease is devastating to flocks worldwide as well as the economy, and current vaccination can only partially control it,” explains Dr Jaqueline Smith, study lead at the Roslin Institute.“Our study identifies regions of the genome associated with resistance, which could be used for mitigating the effects of the virus through selective breeding, improved vaccine design, or future gene-editing technologies.”

In the study, scientists identified regions of chicken DNA that are seen to play a role in disease resistance. Their approach included comparing the DNA of two groups of commercial egg-laying chickens which differed in their resistance to Marek’s disease virus.

The team analysed genetic information from infected chicks and identified variations associated with resistance in the DNA of multiple commercial chicken lines. They also investigated the genetic association with mortality in the infected offspring of egg-laying birds.

Outcomes from this research are the first to provide such a large-scale, high-resolution analysis of genes underlying resistance to the virus in birds relevant to the poultry industry.

Because the tumours caused by Marek’s disease virus have similarities to human lymphoma, researchers hope that their findings may also be able to increase understanding of human cancers.

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Laura Muir wins gold at Commonwealth Games

News Story 1
 Veterinary surgeon and Olympic silver-medalist Laura Muir scooped the gold medal in the 1500m final Commonwealth Games on Sunday.

Winning Scotland's 12th title of the games, Muir finished in four minutes 2.75 seconds, collecting her second medal in 24 hours.

Dr Muir commented on her win: "I just thought my strength is in my kick and I just tried to trust it and hope nobody would catch me. I ran as hard as I could to the line.

"It is so nice to come here and not just get one medal but two and in such a competitive field. Those girls are fast. It means a lot." 

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News Shorts
Views sought on NOAH Compendium

Users of the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) Compendium app and website are being asked to share their views on how it can be improved.

In a new survey, users are asked about some suggested future developments, such as notifications for new and updated datasheets, sharing links to datasheets, and enhanced search functionality.

It comes after NOAH ceased publication of the NOAH Compendium book as part of its sustainability and environmental commitments. The website and the app will now be the main routes to access datasheets and view any changes.