Turning chickens into pharmaceutical bioreactors
Researchers have managed to successfully express human
interferon alpha-2a in the egg whites of eggs laid by their flock of genetically
This is the third therapeutic protein that researchers
at the Roslin Institute
(in collaboration with Oxford BioMedica
have succeeded in producing in the transgenic eggs, already having reported
positive results for interferon beta 1-a and a monoclonal antibody
The results mark another step in the group's proof-of-principle study with
the aim of establishing the process as an alternative to current costly
"The project is designed
to develop the chicken into a pharmaceutical bioreactor,
one that can meet the growing need for protein-based human therapeutics," said a
representative of Oxford BioMedica.
Alpha interferon is produced by the human
immune system and is crucial in disease resistance. Interferon alpha-2a, which
the researchers successfully produced, is the active ingredient in Hoffman-La Roche
A (interferon alpha-2a, recombinant), used for
the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, hairy cell leukaemia, and AIDS-related
Only a few weeks ago the collaborative group announced that they had
successfully managed to breed five generations of transgenic hens, maintaining
expression of therapeutic proteins in the egg whites through the generations.
This was a significant step in taking the field closer to the possibility of
transgenic flocks that could be used as natural bio-manufacturing plants to
serve the pharmaceutical industry.
Although it is likely to be some time before the therapeutic proteins
produced by the transgenic hens are tested directly on patients, Jervis is
confident in the technique.
have been used for vaccine manufacture for over 30 years. Our gene delivery
system is being developed for use in human gene therapy and so is designed to
meet extremely stringent safety profiles. Also, recent approval of ATryn
[recombinant human antithrombin] by GTC
(transgenic goats) means regulators
are familiar with transgenic bioproduction."
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