CRISPR genome editing has been used to make chickens resistant to a common virus. The approach could boost egg and meat production worldwide while improving welfare.
The altered chickens showed no signs of disease even when exposed to high doses of the avian leukosis virus (ALV). The virus is a problem for poultry farmers around the world, says Jiri Hejnar at the Czech Academy of Sciences.
Infected birds become ill, emaciated and depressed, and often develop tumors. The virus gets into cells by binding to a protein called chicken NHE-1 (chNHE-1). Hejnar’s team has previously shown that deleting three DNA letters from the chNHE-1 gene that makes this protein prevents ALV from infecting chicken cells.