Golden Eggs: Engineered hens lay drugs | Science News

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Golden Eggs: Engineered hens lay drugs

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8:10am, January 17, 2007

Scottish scientists have genetically engineered hens that can not only produce useful drugs in their eggs but also reliably pass on this characteristic to new generations of chickens. Successfully combining these two traits represents a first for researchers aiming to transform animals into living drug factories, the scientists say.

Certain proteins can counteract a variety of medical conditions, from anemia to diabetes to cancer. While some of these protein drugs are relatively simple to make in the lab, others are difficult, time-consuming, or expensive to produce.

Since animals naturally make thousands of proteins, researchers have sought to harness this innate capability. Over the past several years, scientists have engineered cows, sheep, and other mammals to produce protein drugs.

However, these animals have several drawbacks, says Simon Lillico of the Roslin Institute outside Edinburgh. Most of the engineered animals are large, expensive to house and feed,

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