The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan is currently working on a project which involves genetically engineering chickens so that their eggs would contain drugs that could fight off disease. According to Phys.org, researchers would use gene-editing technology to mutate the cells of roosters so that they would produce more interferon beta, a protein which plays a key role in the immune system. Interferon beta is known to bolster the body’s ability to ward off skin cancer and hepatitis.
The poultry’s protein preponderance would then be passed on to the next generation of birds genetically. After several rounds of breeding, the jacked up presence of interferon beta will be a dominant trait of the chickens, and then researchers will be able to readily extract it from the eggs themselves. Currently, the production of interferon beta can cost anywhere from around $250-900 to get just a few micrograms.
“This is a result that we hope leads to the development of cheap drugs,” Professor Hironobu Hojo of Osaka University said to The Japan News. “In the future, it will be necessary to closely examine the characteristics of the agents contained in the eggs and determine their safety as pharmaceutical products.”
So, curing cancer won’t quite be as easy as ordering Eggs Benedict. The researchers are really scrambling to make this dream a reality, relying on original, non-poached ideas. If their research progresses to its ideal conclusion, pharmaceutical companies across the globe will have reason to look on the sunny side of the things. Hard boiled. (Did you ever wonder what the difference between white and brown eggs is? We have the answer.)
[Source: Fast Company]