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Gene Editing Could Prevent the Next Influenza Pandemic

It’s been more than 100 years since the Spanish influenza pandemic - the deadliest in recent history – ravaged the globe. In a more connected world, however, the threat of another pandemic is more pertinent than ever, according to many infectious disease experts.

Until now, much of the world’s pandemic preparedness has revolved around containment of the disease rather than prevention - but, thanks to gene editing, that might be about to change. 

A team of scientists at Imperial College, London and the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh recently announced a new development in influenza prevention: gene-edited chickens resistant to the disease.

Since the source of all pandemic influenza is wild birds, this would be monumental.

Until now, much of the world’s pandemic preparedness has revolved around containment of the disease rather than prevention - but, thanks to gene editing, that might be about to change. 

Using gene editing, the researchers have successfully identified and edited out the section of DNA responsible for producing one of the host proteins on which influenza viruses are dependent, in this case ANP32A. 

While current research has only yielded gene-edited cells, scientists hope to implant these cells into surrogate eggs within the next 12 months. If all goes as planned, these eggs will ultimately hatch into chicks resistant to the influenza virus.  

If successful, this development could one day prevent a recurrence of the pandemics that have killed millions over the last 100 years. 
 

Read more via The Telegraph

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