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A gene-altered chicken will protect humans from flu diseases.

Coming Soon: Gene-edited chickens to prevent flu

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A group of British scientists is developing gene-edited chickens which will be flu resistant. This research is being conducted at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Researchers are developing these gene-altered chickens to prevent the next life-threatening human pandemic flu diseases.

Birds such as chicken cause H5N1, an Influenza A virus among humans. This is a deadly disease spreading globally in humans.

This virus infected many poultry flocks worldwide. Thousands of human lives are being affected by this flu.

In this new prevention method, scientists are developing a procedure to change the birds DNA to prevent occurring of this infected virus.

The birds DNA has been changed using a new technology known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR). During this procedure, parts of a protein on which the flu virus usually depends are removed. This makes the chicken fully flu-immune.

The idea is to use CRISPR to alter the chicken’s DNA to change only one part of the key protein. Genetically leaving the rest of the chicken unaltered.

CRISPR is a collection of DNA sequences which are present in genomes of bacteria and archaea. These sequences are used to detect and deal with the infections in prokaryotes. It plays a vital role during antiviral defense system.

The first of these gene-edited chickens will hatch later this year at the Roslin Institute.

Wendy Barclay, professor of virology at Imperial College London who is co-leading the project said, “If we could prevent influenza virus crossing from wild birds into chickens, we would stop the next pandemic at source”.

Barclay also stated, “The idea is to generate poultry that cannot get flu and would form a buffer between wild birds and humans”.

Scientists at Roslin Institue have been working on gene-edited animals for quite some time. Previously, they had developed gene-edited pigs making them resistant to a virus.

According to Barclay, one of the biggest obstacles would be the acceptance from the public. People have been eating food from the farmed animals that have been a part of traditional breeding. But now they might be anxious about eating gene-altered food.

By these prevention methods, scientists are working to protect humans from any possible health hazards affecting lives. The major goal behind this is to put a halt to next pandemic.

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