Following a long line of recent genetically manipulated creations, scientists have developed genetically modified chickens that do not transmit bird flu to other chickens. The chickens, while unable to transmit the disease, still become sick upon becoming infected with the virus. The scientists introduced a gene that produces a “decoy” molecule that emulates an integral control element of the bird flu virus. The decoy interrupts the replication cycle of the virus, restricting transmission.
“Chickens are potential bridging hosts that can enable new strains of flu to be transmitted to humans. Preventing virus transmission in chickens should reduce the economic impact of the disease and reduce the risk posed to people exposed to the infected birds,” Dr. Laurence Tiley, senior lecturer in molecular virology in the veterinary medicine department at University of Cambridge, said in a university news release.
“The genetic modification we describe is a significant first step along the path to developing chickens that are completely resistant to avian [bird] flu. These particular birds are only intended for research purposes, not for consumption,” he added.