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Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

Researchers are exploring whether gene editing of chickens could help prevent future pandemics, the Guardian writes.

Outbreaks of diseases like avian flu lead to the culling of millions of birds, in part to prevent the infections from spilling over into humans, but the Guardian reports that researchers like the University of Edinburgh's Helen Sang are looking at CRISPR-based gene-editing to provide a more lasting solution. It adds that Sang and the University of Cambridge's Laurence Tiley first pursued the idea of gene-editing chickens to stop the spread of bird flu but paused their research because the tools weren't robust enough. Now, though, CRISPR has become more common, it notes.

"I think there is an obvious case to improve livestock production … to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases," Tiley tells the Guardian

The Guardian notes that genetically modified organisms are tightly regulated in the European Union and that though the UK may be relaxing those rules, there are still critics of the approach.

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