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Chicken Genome May Yield Vaccine to Costly Poultry Disease

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The sequencing of the genome of the chicken (Gallus gallus), could soon begin paying out dividends for those in the agriculture business world as researchers working with the US Department of Agriculture are using the sequence to develop a vaccine to help combat a poultry disease, the USDA said today.
Researchers at Michigan State University, the University of Delaware, and Texas A&M University worked with funding from the USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service to identify individual genes that are linked to MDV, or Marek’s disease, a highly contagious viral disease that costs the worldwide poultry industry $1 billion per year.
The USDA said that the new information about the interactions between the virus and the chicken genes was used to develop methods for seeing which chicken genes are either expressed or modified by the viral infection.
The chicken MIP-1 gene was cloned to help create the vaccine strain of the virus, which the USDA called comparable to the “best commercially available vaccines.”  
The vaccine research will continue with studies of gene silencing and genetic markers that could help improve resistance to Marek’s disease in commercial flocks.
An analysis of the Gallus gallus genome was published in late 2004, and showed that around 60 percent of its protein coding genes have counterparts in humans.
Since 2001, lead institution MSU has been working off of a $1.6 million grant from the USDA to conduct the Marek’s Disease prevention research program.
The effort now has generated and tested a glass slide array that contains over 13,000 unique express sequence tags, nearly 8,000 bacterial artificial chromosomes, and 900 genetic markers.

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