Researchers at Lancaster University have used a novel genome editing approach to engineer a vaccine that can be used to protect poultry birds from two diseases simultaneously; Newcastle disease and Infectious laryngotracheitis.

Novel technology

In a study, which was published recently in the journal Vaccines, researchers have, for the first time, applied revolutionary CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technologies to craft fusion gene of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) into the genome of infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV).

The fusion gene of the virus is one of the key factors to allow the virus to bind into the cell and to the trigger immune system of the bird.

It means this protein can provide immunity against NDV. Interestingly, the vaccine can be administered to flocks via a spray.

Easy application and established approach

Dr. Muhammad Munir, lecturer of Molecular Virology at Lancaster University, said: “ILTV-based vaccines can be mass applied by sprays to thousands of birds which alleviates the suffering of birds from capturing and injection.

“ILTV and NDV are main pathogens of poultry health concerns, and usage of this single virus will protect poultry birds from both diseases, further helping animal welfare for repeated administration of multiple vaccines.”

The novel CRISPR/Cas9 proposes multiple solutions to otherwise untreated diseases. Experts say the application of the technology for the development of better vaccines against poultry viruses will not only improve animal wellbeing but also enhance production and safeguard food security.