British experts have genetically modified chickens to make them partially resistant to the bird flu virus. This method can prevent the virus from being transmitted from wild animals to farm animals.
According to a research group, genome editing would not have harmed chickens during a two-year observation period Mike McGraw From the University of Edinburgh in the journal “Nature Communications” mentioned.
Host molecule change
Experts made changes with help CRISPR genetic scissors The section of DNA responsible for producing the ANP32A protein. During infection, influenza viruses hijack this host molecule to replicate. McGraw’s team reported that nine out of ten genome-edited chickens did not become infected with an average viral load. However, if animals came into contact with larger amounts of viruses, resistance decreased.
Complete resistance in chickens could theoretically be achieved if the three genes of the ANP32 gene family were modified. This has been shown through experiments in cell cultures. However, turning off all three genes could be harmful to chickens.
This work is a proof-of-concept study, i.e. a pure feasibility study. Potential use in practice is still some way off, and many issues remain unresolved: for example, influenza viruses coming via genetically modified chickens mutate quickly – this could mean that the method quickly loses its effectiveness, as well as the possibility of virus emergence. Variants suitable for humans are dangerous, and increasing.