Funding into poultry viruses announced

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has announced it will be funding a new research project studying viruses in poultry.

The project will aim to improve recognition of emerging viruses before widespread infections occur; prepare for possible new types of avian influenza and help the process of developing better vaccines for poultry and humans. The funding will also help to establish emerging British poultry virologists.

Dr Michael Skinner, of Imperial College, London, who will lead the research, said the project would look for “distinct signatures” that appear when cells are infected 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.”

He added that the study of poultry viruses made an important contribution to the overall study of virology. “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.”

The research will involve collaboration from scholars from a range of universities, including the University of Cambridge and St George’s, University of London. The multi-million-pound National Avian Research Facility, which is a collaboration between the Roslin Institute and the Pirbright Institute will also contribute.

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