Cheap drugs could be made via genetically modified chicken eggs | Science & Tech News
British scientists have genetically modified chickens to produce eggs containing a protein which would allow for the cheap production of certain therapy drugs, according to a new study.
The study found substantial amounts of the proteins necessary for the drugs can be extracted from the white of the eggs using a purification system.
The drugs they developed from these extracted proteins worked as well as if the proteins came from existing sources.
According to the researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, the findings suggest chickens could be used as a cheap method of producing high-quality research drugs.
In the long-term, they could also be used to produce drugs which would be used on patients.
Eggs are already used by scientists to grow viruses for vaccinations, including the flu jab, but the team altered the chickens’ DNA so they produced the protein as part of the egg white.
Antibody treatment drugs based on proteins such as Avastin and Herceptin are widely used as cancer therapies.
However producing these drugs in quantities requires scientists to use expensive mammalian cell culture techniques which produce them in very low quantities.
Scientists have previously shown that genetically modified goats, rabbits and chickens can be used to produce protein therapies in their milk or eggs.
In the study published in BMC Biotechnology, the team reported that their method was more efficient in terms of cost and protein yield.
Professor Helen Sang of the Roslin Institute said: “We are not yet producing medicines for people, but this study shows that chickens are commercially viable for producing proteins suitable for drug discovery studies and other applications in biotechnology.”
Dr Lissa Herron added: “We are excited to develop this technology to its full potential, not just for human therapeutics in the future but also in the fields of research and animal health.”