Influenza A virus (IAV) represents an ongoing threat to human and animal health worldwide. The generation of IAV-resistant chickens through genetic modification and/or selective breeding may help prevent viral spread. The feasibility of creating genetically modified birds has already been demonstrated with the insertion of transgenes that target IAV into the genomes of chickens. This approach has been met with some success in minimising the spread of IAV but has limitations in terms of its ability to prevent the emergence of disease. An alternate approach is the use of genetic engineering to improve host resistance by targeting the antiviral immune responses of poultry to IAV. Harnessing such resistance mechanisms in a "genetic restoration" approach may hold the greatest promise yet for generating disease resistant chickens. Continuing to identify genes associated with natural resistance in poultry provides the opportunity to identify new targets for genetic modification and/or selective breeding. However, as with any new technology, economic, societal, and legislative barriers will need to be overcome before we are likely to see commercialisation of genetically modified birds.

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Department of Virology

Looi, F.Y. (Fong Yang), Baker, M.L. (Michelle L.), Townson, T. (Thomas), Richard, M., Novak, B. (Ben), Doran, T.J. (Tim J.), & Short, K. (2018). Creating Disease Resistant Chickens: A Viable Solution to Avian Influenza?. Viruses (Vol. 10). doi:10.3390/v10100561