Since Crick and Watson discovered the double helix structure of DNA in 1953, gene editing technology has made rapid progress. Today, scientists have been able to make precise modifications to the genome of organisms through gene editing tools such as CRISPR-Cas9. The potential of this technology is huge, bringing revolutionary changes to areas such as disease treatment, agricultural production, and biological research. Recently, the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, UK, famous for creating the world’s first cloned sheep, Dolly, has made a new breakthrough. “Dolly Labs” used gene editing technology to successfully breed a chicken that is resistant to avian influenza. This breakthrough result once again proves the huge value of gene editing technology in the agricultural field.
Avian influenza is an infectious disease caused by avian influenza viruses that can cause serious economic losses to the poultry breeding industry. Currently, the mainstream vaccines on the market mainly target highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of H5 and H7 subtypes, but these vaccines cannot completely prevent the spread and infection of the virus. Therefore, developing a new type of anti-avian influenza vaccine has become an important topic for scientists.
The research team of “Dolly Laboratory” discovered a key gene that can resist avian influenza viruses through in-depth research on the chicken genome. This gene is located in the chicken’s immune system and is responsible for producing a protein that recognizes and attacks viruses. Researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 technology to successfully insert this key gene into the genome of ordinary chickens, giving these chickens the ability to resist avian influenza.
In order to verify the safety and effectiveness of this bird flu-resistant chicken, the research team conducted rigorous experimental tests. First, they collected different types of chickens from multiple farms and divided the chickens into two groups: one group of regular chickens and the other group of chickens that had been genetically edited to be resistant to bird flu. The researchers then inoculated the two groups of chickens with the bird flu virus to see if they could resist the virus.
Experimental results show that after the gene-edited bird flu-resistant chickens are infected with the bird flu virus, their immune systems can quickly activate and produce a large amount of anti-viral proteins to effectively resist virus invasion. In contrast, after ordinary chickens are infected with the avian influenza virus, their immunity is significantly reduced, and the virus spreads rapidly in the body, leading to the death of the chickens. In addition, the research team also tested the blood of these two types of chickens and found that the content of antiviral proteins in the blood of gene-edited bird flu-resistant chickens was significantly higher than that of ordinary chickens.
Researchers used gene editing technology to modify the protein-producing genes in chicken germ cells. Data show that 90% of chickens that have been genetically edited are not infected when exposed to chickens infected with avian influenza, and they will not transmit the virus to other chickens. What’s more, this resistance can be passed down to future generations.
However, the research team also emphasized that excessive genetic modification may cause other problems in chicken breeds, and also risks accelerating the evolution of the virus. But overall, scientists are optimistic about the application of gene editing technology to prevent avian influenza.
This research result undoubtedly opens up a new path for the application of gene editing technology in the agricultural field. Through gene editing technology, scientists can precisely modify the genomes of animals and plants to provide them with excellent traits such as disease resistance, insect resistance, and drought resistance, thereby improving agricultural production efficiency and product quality. In addition, gene editing technology can also help develop new pesticides and biological agents, reducing environmental pollution and harm to the human body.
In short, the “Dolly Laboratory” successfully used gene editing technology to breed chickens that are resistant to avian influenza. This breakthrough achievement demonstrates the huge potential of gene editing technology in the agricultural field. As technology continues to develop and improve, we have reason to believe that future agriculture will become more efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable.