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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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WellVet launches spring series of wellbeing talks

News Story 1
 A new spring series of wellbeing talks designed to tackle some of the issues faced in veterinary practices is launching on Saturday (27 February). Hosted by WellVet and Boehringer Ingelheim, the talks will focus on simple, practical tips to improve personal and team wellbeing.

Six 30-minute presentations will be hosted by leading coaching professionals, including Libby Kemkaran, Adrian Nelson-Pratt and occupational psychologist professor Elinor O'Connor. The events will be streamed live on the WellVet Facebook page and can be watched back at any time. For more information, visit wellvet.com 

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News Shorts
2021 NOAH Compendium now available

The 2021 edition of the NOAH Compendium of Data Sheets for Animal Medicines has been published.

Published annually by NOAH, this book is sent to every veterinary practice in the UK for free. The 2021 edition includes an even larger range of products than previous years.

Chief executive Dawn Howard stated that NOAH will shortly be launching a survey for practices on the Compendiums effectiveness.

She added: "Our survey will give users of the Compendium the opportunity to say how they think we can improve it to assist them in prescribing veterinary medicines and advising animal keepers on their use. We look forward to getting your views."