$1.6 Million Grant Funding from NIH-NIFA

September 10, 2014

Dr. Bhanu Telugu has been awarded a $1.6 million from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Competitive Grants Program. This is a NIH-NIFA Dual purpose with Dual benefits (R01) grant entitled “Generation of Zoonotic Influenza Resistant Recombinant Pigs via Site-directed Technology.”

“The main goal of this grant proposal is to use site-specific nucleases and genome editing technologies to engineer resistance to zoonotic influenza (flu) disease in swine herds,” explained Dr. Telugu. “Annually, seasonal influenza is responsible for up to 41,000 human fatalities in United States and upwards of 500,000 casualties worldwide. In the United States alone, seasonal influenza results in an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 hospitalizations annually, costing more than $11 billion in direct medical expenses and another $16 billion in indirect loss of earnings, prophylactic costs, and lost productivity.

Among commercial swine herds, influenza ranks consistently among the top three economic diseases affecting the pork industry. Humans share receptors for and susceptibility to swine-adapted virus, allowing the disease to spread between swine and human hosts. The strategy of this study is to delete the receptors for viral entry and insert decoy genes to prevent replication and dissemination. This serves as a dual mechanism for protecting the pigs from viral infection, and transmission to human and pig hosts.”