Navigation Links
Europe develops new technologies to boost health of livestock
Date:4/8/2008

A range of new technologies including genetic modification (GM) and RNA Interference are being deployed to improve the health of farm animals in a series of European and global initiatives. The ground was laid for a European platform to develop new treatments that exploit these technologies at a recent workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF).

The workshop highlighted the interlocking themes underlying the debate over livestock disease research, following a series of high profile epidemics and pandemics over the last two decades, including BSE, foot and mouth disease, bird flu, and PRRSV (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus) in pigs, coupled with the public relations problems facing GM technologies.

It was clear that new technologies under the banner of GM have the potential to provide disease resistance with huge benefits for human health, animal welfare, and the agricultural sector, but only if public confidence can be restored. The ethical and societal dimension therefore featured strongly during the ESF workshop, according to convenor Bruce Whitelaw, Head of Developmental Biology at the Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Scotland. There was a very thought provoking presentation by Kenneth Boyd (from Environmental Research Institute in UK) on what our conscience wants. This was one of the scene setting talks and was intended to make us consider up-front the ethical debate, said Whitelaw.

A major issue with GM was that it was deployed too soon with inefficient, inaccurate technology, and often for the wrong reasons, to benefit farmers and pharmaceutical companies rather than consumers. But the technical limitations are being overcome through new methods highlighted at the ESF workshop. There was a very exciting presentation by Chamsy Sarkis (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France) indicating the amazing new technologies and methods for gene transfer. The take home message is that soon we will be able to engineer the animal genome efficiently and in a precise manner, said Whitelaw.

At the same time GM technologies are being redirected towards animal health and welfare, according to Whitelaw. The use of GM in farm species has been to-date focussed on high value products (e.g. animal bioreactors producing pharmaceuticals in milk). In the future much more effort will be applied to improve the health and welfare of animals through GM technology, with a second important topic being the generation of more appropriate animal models of human disease to enhance the development of better disease intervention strategies.

There has already been some success employing GM techniques to engineer disease resistance in animals. It is now possible to produce cattle lacking the gene that makes the prion protein responsible for BSE. Calves produced this way appear to be completely healthy, suggesting that the prion protein is not necessary, or that it has back up proteins that perform its functions. Either way, there is a real prospect of eliminating BSE from cattle livestock.

In the case of viral disease, other techniques apart from GM may be appropriate. The huge potential of RNA Interference was discussed at the conference, whereby the ability of viruses to produce the proteins they need for replication from the genetic information encoded in their RNA is blocked. This could help prevent pigs from contracting the deadly PRRSV, or chickens from getting bird flu.

But much more research is needed, and the ESF workshop helped bring together researchers with the relevant expertise in Europe. The workshop identified Europes leading position in livestock disease research, spearheaded by the Scottish Network of Excellence Development of Novel Technologies to Fight Viral Diseases in Farm Animals, which is a model for a possible Europe-wide consortium.

The ESF Exploratory Workshop on Genetic Models of Disease Resistance in Livestock was held in Edinburgh, UK in October 2007.

Each year, ESF supports approximately 50 Exploratory Workshops across all scientific domains. These small, interactive group sessions are aimed at opening up new directions in research to explore new fields with a potential impact on developments in science.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Bruce Whitelaw
bruce.whitelaw@bbsrc.ac.uk
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. European membrane expertise to focus on new treatments for human diseases
2. ESFs European ice core project EPICA receives prestigious Descartes Prize
3. Europes most common genetic disease is a liver disorder
4. First European Lung Cancer Conference
5. Final preparations for first human-rated spacecraft to be lauched from Europes Spaceport
6. EMBO Installation Grants help 9 scientists set up in Europe
7. European Union forests expanding, absorbing carbon at surprisingly high rate: study
8. IdentiPHI Opens Paris Office to Boost European Sales and Support
9. Great potential to improve collection, recycling of Europes electronic waste, says UN report
10. Hot spots the key to controlling European carp in Australia
11. Fossilized cashew nuts reveal Europe was important route between Africa and South America
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/15/2016)... , June 15, 2016 ... market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application Market - Global ... 2016 - 2024". According to the report, the  global ... billion in 2015 and is estimated to grow ... 48.56 billion by 2024.  Increasing application ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... June 2, 2016 The Department of ... awarded the 44 million US Dollar project, for the ... Plates including Personalization, Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , ... the production and implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned ... Decatur was selected for the most ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... May 20, 2016  VoiceIt is excited to ... VoicePass. By working together, VoiceIt and ... VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly different approaches to ... both security and usability. ... this new partnership. "This marketing and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of ... the Cary 5000 and the 6000i models are higher end machines that use the ... of the spectrophotometer’s light beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with ... in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016   Boston Biomedical , an industry ... to target cancer stemness pathways, announced that its ... Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug ... including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is an ... cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and is ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 A person commits a crime, and the ... track the criminal down. An outbreak of foodborne ... Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the bacteria ... far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a complex, ... foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome sequencing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: