Researchers at The Pirbright Institute in the U.K. have published in the video journal "JoVE" a new methodology for creating a vaccine that protects against Marek’s disease and infectious bursal disease (IBD) in poultry using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system.
Both viruses cause highly infectious diseases of poultry and lead to huge economic losses globally, the institute said. The research carried out by Pirbright’s Viral Oncogenesis group utilizes fast and accurate gene editing tools to insert an IBD virus gene into the Marek’s vaccine virus, which results in the creation of a recombinant vaccine that allows the single vaccine to protect against both diseases simultaneously, according to the announcement.
"Developing this protocol was not easy," professor Venu Nair, head of the Viral Oncogenesis group, said. “Extensive work went into defining the correct quantities and timings of each step, and it has taken the last two years to streamline the process. However, the hard work and perseverance of the team finally paid off, and we now have a procedure that is highly efficient and represents a vast improvement on previous techniques."
Although other recombinant vaccines exist that protect against both viruses, the methods for producing them are lengthy and not as reliable, Pirbright said. The new system is precise and allows vaccines to be developed rapidly, which improves the capacity for responding to changing outbreak situations, the institute added. The method’s flexibility also offers the potential to expand and protect against three or four diseases, including influenza, which remains a major challenge to poultry production and a threat to human health.
Sharing the methodology in "JoVE" will allow scientists to see how Pirbright researchers use CRISPR/Cas9 to create the recombinant vaccine step by step, the announcement said. This could benefit other labs that are looking to use CRISPR/Cas9 systems to target other poultry diseases such as infectious laryngotracheitis virus and Newcastle disease virus.
“The development of new vaccines using this approach will be highly beneficial for the poultry industry to protect against multiple poultry diseases,” said Dr. Yongxiu Yao, a senior scientist in the group who led this work.
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