Preventing Bird Flu With Genetically Modified Chickens

Scientists from Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh have made genetic modifications in chickens that may prevent the spread of avian influenza. The changes create transgenic birds that can't get bird flu.

Infection of chickens with avian influenza virus poses a global threat to both poultry production and human health that is not adequately controlled by vaccination or by biosecurity measures. A novel alternative strategy is to develop chickens that are genetically resistant to infection. We generated transgenic chickens expressing a short-hairpin RNA designed to function as a decoy that inhibits and blocks influenza virus polymerase and hence interferes with virus propagation.

The next steps will be for regulators to review the science and make a decision on adopting this approach or requesting more studies.