In a breakthrough study, researchers have found a way of potentially making birds resistant to the avian flu.
“What this shows is that there’s a proof of concept that we can use to move toward making chickens resistant to the virus,” says virologist at Imperial College London and co-author of the study, Wendy Barclay.
The avian flu is a contagious virus that led to the death of approximately 131 million domestic poultry worldwide in 2022. The most recent study suggests that by using gene editing technology, scientists could tweak a protein that avian flu relies on to affect chickens. In multiple experiments, the gene-edited birds became infected at a much lower rate and were less contagious than a standard chicken. More research must be done before the results from the study can be executed at a large scale, such as ensuring that gene editing does not affect the overall health and development of the chickens. If further research proves positive, this could save the lives of hundreds of millions of chickens each year.