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每日跟讀#525: Scientists make gene-edited chickens in bid to halt next pandemic

基因編輯雞即將問世 可望遏止大規模流感

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每日跟讀#525: Scientists make gene-edited chickens in bid to halt next pandemic

British scientists are developing gene-edited chickens designed to be totally resistant to flu in a new approach trying to stop the next deadly human pandemic. The first of the transgenic chicks will be hatched later this year at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said Wendy Barclay, a professor of virology at Imperial College London who is co-leading the project.

英國科學家正在著手研發基因編輯雞隻,使其能完全抵抗流感,試圖藉由這條新的途徑,遏止下一波致命的人類流感發生大規模流行。這份研究的共同主持人、倫敦帝國學院的病毒學教授溫蒂‧巴克雷表示,第一批基因轉殖雞隻將於今年稍後在蘇格蘭愛丁堡大學的羅斯林研究所孵化。

The birds’ DNA has been altered using a new gene editing technology known as CRISPR, short for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat.” In this case the “edits” are to remove parts of a protein on which the flu virus normally depends, making the chickens totally flu-resistant. The idea is to generate poultry that cannot get flu and would form a “buffer between wild birds and humans,” Barclay said.

科學家運用新的基因編輯科技,稱為「群聚且有規律間隔的短回文重複序列」,改變雞隻的DNA。在這項實驗中,「編輯」的目的在於去除流感病毒通常會仰賴的蛋白質部分,讓雞隻可以完全抵抗流感。巴克雷指出,該研究的構想是製造出不會罹患流感的家禽,進而形成「野鳥和人類間的緩衝帶」。

Global health and infectious disease specialists cite the threat of a human flu pandemic as one of their biggest concerns. The death toll in the last flu pandemic in 2009/10 — caused by the H1N1 strain and considered to be relatively mild — was around half a million people worldwide. The historic 1918 Spanish flu killed around 50 million people.

全球健康與傳染性疾病專家都指出,人類流感引發大規模流行的疫情威脅,是他們最擔憂的問題之一。前一次大規模流感疫情發生於二○○九年到二○一○年間,肇因於H1N1病毒株,雖被認為強度相對溫和,全球死亡人數卻高達五十萬人。歷史性的一九一八年「西班牙流感」更奪走五千萬條性命。

The greatest fear now is that a deadly strain could jump from wild birds via poultry into humans, and then mutate into a pandemic airborne form that can pass easily between people. “If we could prevent influenza virus crossing from wild birds into chickens, we would stop the next pandemic at source,” said Barclay.

今日最大的恐懼在於,致命的病毒株可能會透過家禽從野鳥傳到人類體內,隨後再突變成為可藉空氣傳播的型態、能輕易由人傳人,進而引發大規模流行疫情。巴克雷表示:「如果我們可以防止流感病毒從野鳥傳到雞隻上,那就會從源頭遏止下一波大規模流感發生。」

In research published in 2016 in the journal Nature, Barclay’s team found that a gene present in chickens called ANP32 encodes a protein that all flu viruses depend on to infect a host. Laboratory tests of cells engineered to lack the gene showed they cannot be infected with flu.

在二○一六年發表於期刊《自然》的研究中,巴克雷的團隊發現,雞隻帶有一個名為ANP32的基因,所有流感病毒都仰賴該基因編碼的一種蛋白質,才能感染宿主。實驗室的試驗結果顯示,經過基因工程改造、缺乏該基因的細胞不會受到流感感染。

Teaming up scientists at the Roslin, Barclay said the plan is to use CRISPR to edit the chicks’ DNA so that only one part of the key protein is changed, leaving the rest of the bird exactly the same, genetically, as it was before. “We have identified the smallest change that will stop the virus in its tracks,” she said.

巴克雷和羅斯林研究所的科學家合作,她指出這次研究的計畫是運用「群聚且有規律間隔的短回文重複序列」技術來編輯雛雞的DNA,讓關鍵蛋白質只有一個部分受到改變,而雞隻其他部分──基因上來說──都保持原狀。巴克雷表示:「我們已經確認出抑制病毒發展的最小變動。」

Roslin Institute scientists gained fame in 1996 as creators of “Dolly the sheep,” the world’s first cloned animal. They have also created gene-edited pigs to make them resistant to a virus. Barclay said one of the biggest hurdles to this approach would be poultry producers’ concerns about public acceptance. “People eat food from farmed animals that have been altered by decades of traditional breeding,” she said. “But they might be nervous about eating gene edited food.”

一九九六年,羅斯林研究所的科學家因為創造出全球首例複製動物「綿羊桃莉」而聲名大噪。他們也曾製造出基因編輯的豬隻,使其能夠抵抗某種病毒。巴克雷指出,這項新方法最大的挑戰之一,在於家禽業者對於大眾接受度的擔憂。「人們吃下肚的食物來自養殖的動物,牠們早已被數十年來的傳統繁殖方式改變。」巴克雷說:「但人們可能會對食用基因編輯的食物感到緊張不安。」

Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2019/01/27/2003708692/2

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