Science News

Gm Chickens to Lay Eggs Containing Drugs

Sat, 6th Apr 2002

Part of the show Forensic Archaeology - Dr. Corinne Duhig

We reported 2 years ago that scientists were looking into ways of genetically modifying chickens to make them produce eggs containing drugs. This would be an excellent way to produce large amounts of pre-packaged drugs, fresh and on-demand. It could also be extremely useful in developing countries, for instance, where access to medicines and the ability to store drugs for any length of time is limited. This week plans became reality when American Company 'Avigenics' announced that they have succeeded in genetically modifying chickens to lay eggs that contain a foreign protein. On the basis of initial tests, using a bacterial gene, they suggest that it will be possible to produce drugs such as insulin, for the treatment of diabetes, and growth hormone, for treating people with growth hormone deficiency, at the rate of up to 4g of drug per hen per day. The current source of these drugs are genetically modified bacteria which are grown in large fermenting vessels.

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