Scientists Genetically Modify Chickens To Not Pass On Avian Flu

As bird flu threatens to morph into a virus that can be passed from human to human, British scientists have taken a step forward in preventing the spread of the deadly epidemic by producing genetically modified chickens which are unable to transmit the flu to other creatures.

Scientists at Cambridge and Edinburgh universities found that while the newly developed chickens could still get infected and die from H5N1 bird flu, they didn’t pass it on to other birds, Reuters reports.

“Preventing virus transmission in chickens should reduce the economic impact of the disease and reduce the risk posed to people,” said Laurence Tiley, of Cambridge’s department of veterinary medicine, one of the lead researchers on the study.

Asia and the Middle East have been hit hard by outbreaks of bird flu, which has killed millions of birds either through infection or destructive measures taken to prevent its spread. When people are infected in rare cases, it is often fatal.

Researchers are worried that the virus will in time be able to passed from person to person, so preventing it from bouncing around from bird to bird could be a key step in preventing that outcome.

The next move is to create chickens that will not only not transmit the flu, but actually resist it all together.

Scientists make chickens that don’t spread bird flu [Reuters]


Edit Your Comment

  1. 108socks says:

    I make my own chickens at home.

  2. Chip Skylark of Space says:

    …so I should eat a sneezing chicken?

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Thanks to Netflix Instant Play, I have been able to start watching Survivors, a 3-season series set in Britain, in which 90+% of the population is wiped out because of a deadly strain of influenza.

    Fun times.

    • chucklebuck says:

      Wait, THREE seasons?! I watched the first two, but I totally missed that there was a third! That show is so so good.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        My understanding is the 1970s version had 2 season, and the 1998 version had 3. I could be mistaken.

        • chucklebuck says:

          Ah, what I watched was from 2008. Netflix has two seasons of that, so maybe that’s all there is. But it was so good, I’d definitely watch a third season.

    • Straspey says:

      Yes – Lots of fun…

      Just ask the people who were around in 1918:

      1918 flu pandemic

      The 1918 flu pandemic (the Spanish Flu) was an unusually severe and deadly influenza pandemic that spread across the world. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin.

      Most victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or weakened patients. The flu pandemic was implicated in the outbreak of encephalitis lethargica in the 1920s.

      The pandemic lasted from June 1917 to December 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. Between 50 and 100 million died, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.

      An estimated 50 million people, about 3% of the world’s population (1.8 billion at the time ), died of the disease. Some 500 million, or 28% (≈1/4) were infected.

      Tissue samples from frozen victims were used to reproduce the virus for study. Among the conclusions of this research is that the virus kills via a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body’s immune system) which perhaps explains its unusually severe nature and the concentrated age profile of its victims. The strong immune systems of young adults ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Yeah, but imagine everyone who dies were the only people to survive instead. Imagine that the 50-100 million turned into billions.

        Great show.

      • RickN says:

        I bet you’re a ball at parties.

        “I was watching Law and Order last night and…”
        “So, you find mass murder entertaining do you?”

        “Did you see last night’s Pawn Stars?”
        “No. I find watching people sell all their worldly goods to greedy capitalists to delay their inevitable sinking into a life of prostitution and drug use to be in bad taste.”

        “On the Biggest Loser…”
        “How can you watch a show that flaunts to the Third World our excessive availability of calories? Do you know how many African children who died last night from malnutrition while you were watching TV. Millions, untold millions.”

  4. YokoOhNo says:

    KFC geneticall y modifies chickens to not have heads and feet (thereby reducing costs to feed them ) and they’re forced to change their name to KFC from kentucky fried chicken.

    Now that genetically modifying chickens has become mainstream, I wonder if KFC will be able to go back to calling itself Kentucky Fried Chicken (they were forced to change their name because the creatures they breed for sale do not have heads of feet so, technically, they’re not chicken).

  5. Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

    Cool, but does it taste like chicken?

  6. Cicadymn says:

    Chicken Boo, what’s the matter with you?
    You don’t act like the other chickens do.
    You wear a disguise
    To look like human guys,
    But you’re not man; you’re a Chicken Boo

  7. CrankyOwl says:

    That’s a cute chicken photo. Between that and cute piglet pics I feel even guiltier about eating meat. But not guilty enough to stop eating roast chicken or bacon.

    • Zowzers says:

      I think your cute receptor may be broken.

      • Chip Skylark of Space says:

        My cute receptor is turnedoff in the presence of barbeque sauce. So chickens, piglets and cows have no effect on me. Yum.

      • CrankyOwl says:

        Aww, c’mon…the bright red thingie & the cool brown & white feather patterns? That’s cute!

        • Zowzers says:

          Nope, sorry; I only see the cold face of a ruthless predator. Or at least one that longs for the time when his kind were Utahraptors; Lions of their age.

  8. Alvis says:

    Totally parsed the headline wrong.

    Scientists Genetically Modify Chickens So They Don’t Say “No” To Contracting Avian Flu

  9. Salty Johnson says:

    Don’t anybody tell the anti-GM crazies, because God forbid we ever do anything to our food that would make it safer, more nutritious, and/or able to feed our ever-increasing population!

  10. shthar says:

    Wasn’t this how ‘Night of the Lepus’ started?

  11. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    These chickens will grow to human size, escape their confines and develop violent behavior against humans… and coupons.

  12. Ben says:

    What a great way to create selective pressure for stronger, more virulent forms of the bird flu!