- Hens engineered with interferon beta laid eggs that contain the protein.
- Interferon beta is used in the treatment of malignant skin cancer and hepatitis.
- The protein was introduced in eggs using gene editing technology.
Genetically engineered hens were found to lay eggs that contain drugs which can fight serious diseases including cancer. If successful, the method can be used as a cost-cutting alternative for the treatment of cancer.
The team from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology used have interferon beta
, a protein related to the immune system. It is used in the treatment of malignant skin cancer and hepatitis, as well as for research in viral infections.
‘Genetically engineered hens whose eggs contain drugs that can fight serious diseases including cancer, could be used as a cost-effective treatment.’
Using gene editing technology, the protein was introduced in eggs. Generating this protein in the eggs can cut down the cost by thousands of dollars.
Interferon beta are cells which are precursors of chicken sperm. Introducing genes that can produce these cells has a high possibility of the protein to be retained in the cells.
These cells were also used to fertilise eggs and the hens which were developed from the eggs inherited those genes, meaning the birds were able to lay eggs containing the disease-fighting agent.
The scientists now have three hens whose eggs contain the drug, with the birds laying eggs almost daily. Though it might sound simple, the process is still under testing and should be confirmed with clinical trials.
The researchers plan to sell the drug to pharmaceutical companies, halving its price, so the firms can use it first as a research material, the newspaper said.
This study was done to develop drugs that can help fight diseases at an affordable price. The current expenses of drugs given for cancer cost thousands for a few milliliters. After detailed research, the method might soon reach companies which would start to manufacture eggs with embedded drugs.
Japan scientists grow drugs in chicken eggs