Scientists from the University of Edinburgh Roslin Institute has announced the efficient generation of new transgenic chicken lines that lay eggs with proteins that could cure cancer, arthritis, and other diseases.
In their study published in BMC Biotechnology last December 29, 2018, the results show that,
“As [a] proof-of-concept, we describe the expression, purification and functional characterization of three pharmaceutical proteins, the human cytokine interferon α2a and two species-specific Fc fusions of the cytokine CSF1. “
Initially, the researchers set out to produce proteins that could be used for scientific experiments.
The Edinburgh researchers inserted the gene that produces the proteins in humans into the part of the chickens’ DNA that handles the production of the white in its eggs. When they tested the hens’ eggs, they found that just three eggs contained a dose-worth of the proteins.
Large quantities of the valuable substances can be extracted from the eggs, with three eggs proving enough to produce an adequate dosage.
The Roslin team added genes to the chickens’ DNA, coding for human protein called IFNalpha2a, which has anti-viral and anti-cancer effects, and another protein called macrophage-CSF, which stimulates damaged tissues to repair themselves.
Professor Helen Sang of the Roslin Institute has also noted that, “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,”
Although their research has yielded out promising results, the Roslin team is aware that it will probably take them 10-20 years before the approval and for humans to use of any drugs that would be developed from their genetically-modified chickens. Moreover, this research study could definitely lead to improved drug production.
The Roslin team believes that the production of therapeutic proteins in egg white of transgenic chickens would substantially lower costs of production cycle compared to other traditional methods. If their method is also commercialized, it would result to affordable treatments and open markets especially in developing countries.