As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Gene-edited chickens resistant to bird flu being created to stop next pandemic

'If we could prevent influenza virus crossing from wild birds into chickens, we would stop the next pandemic at source'
Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent @josh_gabbatiss
Wednesday 23 January 2019 12:55 
An attempt to create gene-edited chickens that are totally resistant to flu has been launched by scientists in a bid to avert the next global pandemic. 
Knocking out genes that are vital for the virus as it infects a host could produce birds that act as an effective barrier between dangerous new strains developing in the wild and humans.
A massive outbreak of flu, which can be transmitted from other animals including birds is considered by experts one of the biggest dangers facing humanity.
The most recent major event was the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic that struck in 2009. It killed around half a million people worldwide.
But an outbreak of Spanish flu that struck in 1918 and killed around 50 million people.
The first transgenic chicks that could stop a new form of bird flu before it reaches humans will be hatched later this year at the University of Edinburgh.
“If we could prevent influenza virus crossing from wild birds into chickens, we would stop the next pandemic at source,” said the project's leader Professor Wendy Barclay, a virologist at Imperial College London. 
The project is based on previous work that found a gene present in chickens codes for a protein that flu viruses require to infect a host.
Tests conducted in the laboratory found cells without this gene could not be penetrated by the viruses.

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