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New funding to develop rapid responses to emerging poultry viruses

A new research project has been awarded funding by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to provide novel solutions to combatting emerging poultry viruses.

New funding to develop rapid responses to emerging poultry viruses

Over £6.2M BBSRC funding has been awarded to develop rapid responses to emerging poultry viruses. The funding boost will also help to establish the next generation of poultry virologists, to work in a scientific area where the UK has traditionally been strong.

The 'Developing Rapid Responses to Emerging Virus Infections of Poultry' project will enable the recognition of emerging viruses before widespread infections occur, prepare for the possibility of new subtypes of avian influenza, and help the process of developing better vaccines for poultry and humans.

The research will be led by Dr Michael Skinner, (Imperial College London). It will involve close collaboration between Prof Wendy Barclay (also at Imperial College London), Dr Laurence Tiley, Prof Jim Kaufman and Prof Ian Goodfellow (all at the University of Cambridge) and Prof Steve Goodbourn (St George's, University of London), as well as Prof Venugopal Nair (at The Pirbright Institute), who is a visiting professor at Imperial College London, and Prof Helen Sang at the University of Edinburgh's BBSRC-funded Roslin Institute.

This research will address important scientific challenges to allow better isolation and diagnosis of emerging viruses, as well as faster and better production of vaccines against them. Scientists will study endemic and exotic viruses, in an era when new poultry viruses rapidly cross national and continental boundaries to become global problems.

One area of the research will help us to identify infections early. We are looking for distinct signatures that appear upon infection of cells in the lab. We can use these signatures to create means of detecting new viruses, especially in elite breeder flocks, where the UK and Europe has an important global commercial presence.

Dr Michael SkinnerImperial College London

Poultry virus research is vital, not only for the protection of an important source of animal protein to feed a growing world population, but also for human health. Poultry virus research enabled the development of the influenza vaccine and the use of interferons as antiviral medicine.

The study of poultry viruses has made an important contribution to the development of the modern science of virology. We also need to understand the way viruses interact with chicken cells because isolation and diagnosis of viruses is often conducted in eggs or avian cells and some important human vaccines, including those for seasonal and pandemic influenza, are produced in them.

Dr Michael SkinnerImperial College London

In addition to boosting knowledge, the funding will increase efforts in poultry virology in anticipation of new facilities at The Pirbright Institute and the multi-million pound National Avian Research Facility, which is a collaboration between The Roslin Institute and The Pirbright Institute.

 

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Rob Dawson

Head of News

  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

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About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by the UK Government, and with an annual budget of around £500M (2012-2013), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk

For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes