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Transgenic Chickens Could Stop Spread Of Bird Flu Outbreaks

January 13, 2011: 10:42 AM EST

British scientists have developed genetically modified chickens that are incapable of transmitting avian influenza virus to other chickens in a flock, an advance that could stop the spread of bird flu outbreaks. It would also reduce the risk of bird flu epidemics becoming new flu epidemics among humans. To produce the transgenic chickens, the scientists introduced a new gene that manufactures a "decoy" molecule that mimics a key control element of the flu virus, thus tricking the replication mechanism of the virus into recognizing the decoy instead of the viral genome. This process interrupts the replication cycle of the virus. The transgenic chickens who were infected with avian flu became sick, but did not transmit the infection to chickens kept in the same pen, researchers noted.

Jon Lyall, et al. , "Suppression of Avian Influenza Transmission in Genetically Modified Chickens", Science, January 13, 2011, © American Association for the Advancement of Science
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United Kingdom
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