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Hens that lay human proteins in eggs offer future therapy hope

Chickens that are genetically modified to produce human proteins in their eggs can offer a cost-effective method of producing certain types of drugs, research suggests.

The study found the drugs work at least as well as the same proteins produced using existing methods.

High quantities of the proteins can be recovered from each egg using a simple purification system and there are no adverse effects on the chickens themselves, which lay eggs as normal.

Researchers say the findings provide sound evidence for using chickens as a cheap method of producing high quality drugs for use in research studies and, potentially one day, in patients.

Eggs are already used for growing viruses that are used as vaccines. This new approach is different because the therapeutic proteins are encoded in the chicken’s DNA and produced as part of the egg white.

The team has focused on the human protein IFNalpha2a, which has powerful antiviral and anti-cancer effects, and the human and pig versions of macrophage-CSF, which is being developed to stimulates damaged tissues to repair themselves.

Image credit | iStock

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