Chinese scientists have been given another weapon in their armoury in the fight against bird flu.
They can now use recombinant chicken alpha interferon, a naturally occurring immune stimulant, in the prevention and treatment of avian influenza (AI).
Currently, vaccines are used to stop infection of birds in China’s rapidly developing poultry industry, but they don’t necessarily stop serious outbreaks due to the variability of influenza strains.
As a result, new methods for the prevention treatment and diagnosis of bird flu are required.
Now, according to Asian Scientist, the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, working in collaboration with Qingdao Vland Biological Products Co Ltd and Qingdao National Animal Protection Engineering Technology Research Centre, has been given the go-ahead to use chicken alpha-interferon.
Interferon plays a key role in the early stages of viral infection by improving the immune function of the organism and inducing the body to produce a variety of antiviral proteins.
The chicken alpha interferon gene was introduced into E.Coli to produce recombinant chicken alpha-interferon protein. The protein was then purified and added to poultry drinking water.
Test results, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, found that poultry receiving the recombinant chicken alpha-interferon protein were protected against the H9 subtype of avian influenza, suggesting that the protein retained its activity in vivo.
The product does not cause resistance, unlike vaccines which can mask AI, has few side effects and is fast-acting, making it a useful addition to the long-term management of the disease.