Chickens that are genetically modified to produce human proteins in their eggs can offer a profitable method to produce certain types of medications, research suggests.
The study, which initially focused on producing high quality proteins for use in scientific research, found that drugs work at a minimum, as well as the same proteins that are produced using the existing methods.
Large amounts of proteins from each egg can be recovered using a simple purification system and there are no adverse effects on chickens, which put eggs as normal.
Researchers claim that the findings provide solid evidence for the use of chickens as a cheap method of producing high quality medicines for use in research studies and, potentially, one day in patients.
Eggs are already used for the increase of viruses that are used as vaccines, such as flu jab. This new approach is different because therapeutic proteins are encoded in chicken DNA and are produced as part of white egg.
The equipment has been initially centered on two proteins that are essential for the immune system and have a therapeutic potential: a human protein called IFNalpha2a, which has powerful anti-viral and anti-cancer effects and the human and porcine versions of & # 39; ; a protein called macrophage-CSF, which is developing as a therapy that stimulates damaged tissues to repair.
Only three eggs were sufficient to produce a clinically relevant dose of the drug. As chickens can present up to 300 eggs per year, researchers say that their approach could be more profitable than other methods of producing some important medications.
Researchers say they have not yet produced medications for use in patients, but the study offers a test principle that the system is feasible and that it could be easily adapted to produce other therapeutic proteins.
Protein-based drugs, which include antibody therapies such as Avastin and Herceptin, are widely used to treat cancer and other diseases.
For some of these proteins, the only way to produce them with sufficient quality involves mammalian cell culture techniques, which are expensive and have low yields. Other methods require complex processing systems and additional processing techniques, which increase costs.
Scientists have previously shown that goats, rabbits, and genetically modified chickens can be used to produce proteins in their milk or eggs. Researchers say that their new approach is more efficient, produces better returns and is more profitable than previous attempts.
The study was carried out at the Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh and Roslin Technologies, a company created to market research at the Roslin Institute.
The search is published in BMC Biotechnology. The Roslin Institute receives strategic funding from the Research Council on Biotechnology and Biological Sciences.
Professor Helen Sang of the Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh said: "We are not yet producing medications for people, but this study shows that chickens are commercially viable to produce proteins suitable for to discovery studies of drugs and other applications in biotechnology ".
The Dra. Lissa Herron, Chief of the Business Unit of Avian Biopharming of Roslin Technologies, said: "We are very pleased to develop this technology to the maximum, not only for human therapeutics in the future but also in the fields of research and health animal. "
Ceri Lyn-Adams, head of the scientific strategy, Bioscience for Health with BBSRC, said: "These recent results constitute a promising demonstration of concept for the discovery of drugs in the future and the potential to develop cheaper medications based in proteins ".
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Lissa R. Herron et al., A bioreactor of chicken for the efficient production of functional cytokines, BMC Biotechnology (2018). DOI: 10.1186 / s12896-018-0495-1