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Gene Edited Chickens Could Prevent the Next Influenza Pandemic
A human flu pandemic is one of the great concerns for global health and infectious disease specialists, and flu-resistant chickens just might be the solution.
In 2016, a team of scientists found a protein in chickens’ DNA that is needed for the flu virus to infect its host. Today, that same team is gene editing the bird to be flu-resistant by removing parts of that protein so it cannot be infected. The goal is to prevent the spread of influenza virus from wild birds to humans by way of poultry.
“If we could prevent influenza virus crossing from wild birds into chickens, we would stop the next pandemic at source,” said Wendy Barclay, who is co-leading the flu-resistant chickens project.
More than half a million people died during the 2009-2010 flu season, the last pandemic. In 1918, more than 50 million people died from the flu.