UND develops avian flu antibody for poultry

A University of North Dakota scientist says an antibody to protect poultry from avian influenza could be on the market within a year.

David Bradley, the lead researcher on the project at UND, said the avian influenza antibodies are created by geese and harvested from the goose eggs.

Bradley said treatment would slow the spread of avian influenza outbreaks and reduce the economic impact to farmers.

"Right now, when there's an avian influenza outbreak, they certainly kill all of the flocks immediately," he said. "In some cases, they kill all of the birds within in a five-mile radius of the infected birds. We would hopefully have a mechanism to treat those birds, probably not in the infected population but those in the surrounding radius."

Bradley said the final step is testing the antibodies in a biosecure lab to make sure they are safe and effective in treating live poultry.

He said the goal is to offer protection against the most common avian influenza viruses.

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"We have evidence that these avian antibodies can be stored and kept on the shelf for at least five years," he said. "So we would be making assessments and making antibodies for those things that would be most likely to occur and stockpiling."

A $700,000 grant from the North Dakota Department of Commerce will help fund the final research.

Bradley said the antibody treatment for poultry will have an international market and will be produced by Avianax, a company in Grand Forks, N.D., that is also developing goose antibodies to treat humans for diseases like West Nile Virus and influenza.

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