Gene editing can control avian influenza

Gene editing may be able to help control the avian influenza virus in the future, according to the results of newly released research.

On June 4, 2019, the Roslin Institute, an animal research institute at The University of Edinburgh, announced scientists used gene-editing techniques to stop the virus from spreading in chicken cells grown in the lab. A press release from the institute said these findings raise the possibility of producing gene-edited chickens that are resistant to the disease.

Controlling the virus
In the experiment, scientists deleted a specific section of DNA in lab-grown chicken cells to prevent the avian influenza virus from spreading.

According to the release, researchers at Imperial College London found a molecule inside chicken cells called ANP32A. The avian influenza virus attacks this molecule and uses it to help replicate itself during an infection. With help from the Roslin Institute, the researchers used gene-editing techniques to remove the section of chicken DNA that makes ANP32A. After making this change, the researchers found the virus was unable to replicate in the edited cells.

“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,” Dr. Mike McGrew, group leader at the Roslin Institute, said in the release. “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.”

Implications for poultry breeders
The study was funded by the United Kingdom’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Ph.D. student funding was provided by pedigree broiler breeder company Cobb-Vantress Inc. The full study is published in the journal eLife.

In the release, Rachel Hawken, senior director of genomics and quantitative genetics at Cobb-Vantress said it’s exciting for the company to be involved in exploring new technologies that could be used to advance poultry breeding in the future.

“Avian influenza resistance in broiler production is of global significance and this research is an important step toward that goal,” Hawken said.


Original Post Source: Austin Alonzo,