One of the reasons bird flu spreads is. due to farm animals. Chickens in chicken farms are very susceptible to disease and they are the reason why it spreads. With this being said, scientists have found a way to modify their genes to make them resistant to catching the virus. They made corrections to a gene called ANP32A. This gene gives cells the instructions to make protein that the bird flu likes to rely on, to take over. ANP32A was modified so that way it will stop making the protein that the virus likes to attach to. Even though it did turn out to work, there were still some chickens that got infected, so it is not 100% effective and it requires more studies. The average avian flu is not that dangerous as it only makes birds mildly sick. But there are more strains of this virus, some of which are lethal and make it very dangerous, not just for the birds, but for people as well. Even though there are already alternatives to protect poultry from getting this virus, the cost of continuously treating the birds is a lot, and the virus tends to make changes within itself to counteract the vaccines protection border. This is why genetic editing is something researchers and scientists are working on, as this can offer a more permanent resistance against this virus. An experiment was made with two groups of chicks. One group had chicks that were not genetically modified and one group that was. Researchers got a group of unedited sentinels to go with the unedited chicks and another group of edited sentinels to go with the group of edited chicks. Each group was exposed to the virus. The unmodified chicks that got exposed to the virus contracted it but only one of the modified chicks contracted the virus. Even though the one modified chick got the virus, it didn’t pass down the virus to any other chick in the same incubator. This experiment was tested again, however, there was a change in the dose that the birds were exposed to as well as the separation. Every bird was mixed. The results were that all unmodified chicks and the sentinels got the virus. Half of the modified chicks got the virus but no modified sentinels got the virus. This proves that even though genetically modified chicks contracted the virus, there seemed to be minimal spread of the virus. In order for the birds to be fully resistant to the virus, there needs to be more than just one change to the ANP32A gene and the end result is far from complete.
Scientists modifying genes is not that old. The bird flu is something dangerous which is being dealt with so that this virus becomes resistant in these animals. If scientists are doing this, just imagine what else they might be capable of doing. Modifying genes is complicated but, with these skills, the possibilities of modifying genes to not only animals, but humans, are endless. That is why this article was very interesting to me and captivated my attention because of this incredible study.