Genetically modified hens can produce drugs in the whites of their eggs, scientists reported today.
The technology "signifies an important advance in the use of farm animals for pharmaceutical production," the scientists said in a statement.
Researchers led by Helen Sang of the Roslin BioCentre in Edinburgh, Scotland created transgenic hens by inserting the genes for desired pharmaceutical proteins into the hen’s gene for ovalbumin, a protein that makes up 54 percent of egg whites.
All the egg whites from these hens contained miR24, an antibody with potential for treating malignant melanoma. The whites also packed human interferon b-1a, an antiviral drug.
"With the demand for therapeutic protein drugs increasing, the efficient generation of transgenic hens that produce functional protein drugs at high levels in egg whites marks an important step in the development of this technology," according to a statement released by the Proceedings of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, which published the research in its online edition.
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