- Genus signed an exclusive, worldwide licence with Washington State University (WSU) for patents and know how targeting bovine respiratory disease (BRD), using gene editing technology.

BRD is a complex, bacterial and viral infection that causes lung disease in cattle (particularly calves) and is often fatal.

In the US beef industry, BRD continues to be a primary cause of mortality and the disease also contributes to losses in animal performance, quality and wellbeing.

In the US dairy industry, BRD is also a major disease, causing mortality in weaned calves and reduced dairy performance later in life.

Overall economic losses are extensive and include losses due to animal death, decreased weight gain and additional labour and treatment costs.

The licence covers edits to a target, CD18, which was shown in cell based assays to have the potential to significantly improve the health of animals exposed to BRD.

In this work, gene editing was used to make a single change in the CD18 gene that resulted in the encoded protein being unable to bind a destructive haemotoxin produced by a bacterium, which causes significant pathology in the lungs of BRD affected animals.

Resistance to this haemotoxin is expected to improve the resilience of animals to BRD. This early stage research project will likely take several more years to demonstrate proof of concept.

If the research is successful, the gene edited animals will be resilient to BRD, reducing the mortality associated with this devastating disease.

Genus chief scientific officer Dr Jonathan Lightner said: "This is another step in Genus's strategy to harness the power of gene editing technology and will put Genus at the forefront of developing a solution to combat BRD.

"Genus is dedicated to the responsible exploration of new innovations that benefit the well-being of animals, farmers, and ultimately consumers."

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