CRISPR-edited chickens are coming: Can they stop a bird flu epidemic?

| | January 25, 2019
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Humans don’t usually get the flu directly from animals, but human outbreaks of bird and swine flu can and do happen. In fact, scientists are so concerned that the next great pandemic will arise from a deadly strain of wild bird influenza that they’ve created what will hopefully be our feathered saviors: Gene-edited chickens that are totally resistant to the flu.

Reuters reported….that this first batch of “transgenic” chicks is expected to hatch sometime in 2019 at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland….

Wendy Barclay, Ph.D., a professor of virology and the co-leader of this project, told Reuters that the goal is for these hatchlings to serve as a “buffer between wild birds and humans.” She adds that if these chickens are able to “prevent influenza virus crossing from wild birds into chickens, we could stop the next pandemic at [the] source.”

Related article:  Like it or not, the ‘Pandora’s box’ of gene-edited babies has been opened

Barclay and her team hope to stop these illnesses, in part, with these future transgenic chickens. In 2016, the team discovered that a gene called ANP32 encodes a protein that avian flu viruses depend on to infect the animal. Now, a plan is in the works for the team to use the gene-editing technique CRISPR to remove ANP32, in turn making the birds flu-resistant.

Read full, original article: Flocks of Mutant Chickens Are Coming to Protect Us From the Flu

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