GM lab creates chicken that cannot spread bird flu

 

Scientists have developed a way of curbing the spread of avian flu with the help of genetically modified chickens that do not spread the virus.

The chickens have an extra piece of DNA inserted into their genomes which produces a "decoy" molecule that blocks the replication of the influenza virus and prevents transmission to the rest of the flock.

Researchers believe the breakthrough could eventually lead to the creation of GM poultry, pigs and other livestock that are fully resistant to a range of infectious diseases. They also said that the development could help to lower the risk of transmitting dangerous animal viruses to humans.

While consumers in Britain have been resistant to plant-based products containing GM ingredients, the scientists behind the GM chicken believe that the proposal to develop disease-resistant varieties might become acceptable due to concerns about animal welfare and the transmission of infections to humans. Laurence Tiley of Cambridge University, who was a key member of the research team, said: "We believe the attitude of the UK public to GM food depends on the nature and purpose of the genetic modification.

"Disease resistance is clearly a beneficial characteristic for animal welfare and public health."

The GM chicken was created by adding a synthetic fragment of DNA to their chromosomes, which causes the chickens to manufacture small lengths of RNA, the genetic molecule used by influenza viruses.

These particular pieces of RNA act as decoys by locking on to the enzyme used by flu viruses to make copies of themselves.

"The decoy mimics an essential part of the flu virus genome that is identical for all strains of influenza A.

"We expect the decoy to work against all strains of avian flu and that the virus will find it difficult to evolve to escape the effects of the decoy. If you've got genetically modified chickens that are resistant to the avian flu virus then you don't in theory have to bother with vaccination anymore," he added. When scientists carried out tests on the GM chickens they found that although the birds were still vulnerable to being infected with avian flu and that they became sick with flu, but they did not appear to transmit the virus to other members of their flock, even if these birds were normal, non-GM varieties.

Helen Sang of the Roslin Institute at Edinburgh University, another leading member of the team that carried out the study, published in the journal Science, said that the results achieved so far are "very encouraging".



PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain