Avian Influenza – Bird Flu

A virus known as “Bird Flu” is taking its toll on Poultry Industry where millions of infected poultry slaughtered and if not treated or cured, would be a threat to human life as well, even though we are still reeling under Covid-19.

An Israeli Biotech Startup eggXYt entered into a licensing agreement and is developing a genetic resistance in chickens against avian influenza virus by using “Gene Editing induced Gene Silencing” (GEiGS) technology from UK-based Tropic Biosciences.  eggXYt is also known for their determination of sex of chicks before incubation.  The automated system of eggXYt spare the male chicks who cannot lay eggs and make available more eggs to consumers by saving money and labor to the poultry industry.

“Our primary goal is to improve animal welfare and efficiency within the poultry industry,” says Yehuda Elram, CEO and cofounder of eggXYt.  They propose to open a state-of-the-art R&D facility in Jerusalem.

“Following the Covid-19 outbreak, we are all very mindful of the threat of zoonotic diseases to human health and so we are especially motivated to embark on a project that may help to prevent further pandemics,” Elram tells ISRAEL21c.  Elram and neuroscientist Daniel Offen (founder of Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics) established eggXYt in 2016. Their strategy was to build a platform, talent pool and knowhow to create a variety of genetics-based solutions for the poultry and livestock industry.

The main current approach is an avian influenza vaccination. However, these expensive vaccines must be individually administered and do not cover all flu strains. They can only reduce, not eradicate, outbreaks. Avian Flu is currently affecting the Poultry industry from the health point of view, both for humans and chicks.  It takes around 40 months, to create gene-edited stable founder flocks of chickens.

In contrast, eggXYt’s technology detects the gender of newly laid eggs by picking up a signal from a biomarker right through the shell – made possible by a gene-editing technique called CRISPR that recently won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for its developers.  To complete the process of designing the device that will detect the signal from each egg of the gene-edited chickens, eggXYt has collaborated with strategic investor TBG, whose operating companies make egg grading and hatchery equipment.

Israel is well known for its pro-active innovation in finding solutions for existing challenges.  Interested may kindly reach out to Ms. Veshala Gajaraj, at the Israeli Consulate in Bangalore.  Email id: veshalakshe.gajaraj@israeltrade.gov.il .

Source: Israel21C

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