CRISPR-edited chickens immune to avian flu could cut disease spread and help save farmers billions of dollars

Credit: iStock
Credit: iStock

Recently, the company [EggXYt] branched out into the field of disease prevention, licencing the GEiGS™ Technology Platform from Tropic Biosciences in a project to develop resistance against avian influenza (AI) in chickens. “Early on, we identified disease prevention in poultry as a problem worth solving,” [CEO Yehuda] Elram says. “With AI in particular, whenever an outbreak is reported, typically all birds within a certain radius must be culled by law, regardless of whether or not they have been infected,” he adds.

This cruel reality comes with a hefty price tag: “The 2015 US outbreak, for example, led to the deaths of 50 million birds and an economic cost of US$ 3.3 billion. Today, some countries address AI by vaccines and upgraded biosecurity measures, but this is simply not sufficient to prevent all outbreaks,”

“We asked ourselves how we could tackle this challenge,” Elram continues. “We assembled a team of world-class molecular biologists whose expertise lies in gene editing and avian sciences, making them uniquely suited to this task. By using gene editing, our team can give chickens genetic immunity against a host of diseases; in this first instance, that is avian influenza,”

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“We plan to be at the forefront of gene editing-based animal health solutions that will improve animal welfare, change animal protein supply chains, and improve the overall sustainability of this industry,” Elram concludes. 

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