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Engineered Hens Lay Cancer-Fighting Eggs

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the egg-a-day-keeps-the-tumors-away dept.

Biotech 92

celardore writes "Hens that lay eggs containing cancer-fighting proteins have been developed in Scotland. While not themselves cancer-antagonistic, the proteins can be used to create drugs that have cancer-fighting potential. The hens are, in effect, factories for cancer drugs. It is still unknown whether the resulting drugs would work in practice, and clinical trials are 5 years off. This research was conducted by the Roslin Institute, the ones responsible responsible for Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal."

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Dissapointed (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17606996)

Why didn't they make dolphins lay those eggs? I like dolphins better... :(

Medical Marvel: Bill Gates Neck Waddle - Gone! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17607388)

Medical Marvel: Bill Gates Neck Waddle - Gone!

Plastic Surgery works pretty well if you can pay enough to avoid the hacks with knifes. Have you seen all the butchered faces (and bodies!) in La-la land?

Bill Gates, skinny as he was, had a neck waddle that made my middle school typing teacher (Wally the Whale) seem only double-chinned. He had it removed. Good for him.

The modified chicken came first! (-1, Offtopic)

euice (953774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607006)

So once again, someone who thought he has solved the chicken and egg problem [slashdot.org] was wrong!

Re:The modified chicken came first! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17607080)

Wrong. There had to be a modified egg that hatched the modified chicken.

The egg really did come first.

Re:The modified chicken came first! (2, Informative)

debilo (612116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607154)

So once again, someone who thought he has solved the chicken and egg problem was wrong!

I've never understood all the fuss about the chicken and egg problem - they both taste great.

Re:The modified chicken came first! (1)

celardore (844933) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607466)

I tried poaching eggs before, but the farmer chased me away =(

Re:The modified chicken came first! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607610)

I agree completely!

Who came first? (4, Funny)

ubuwalker31 (1009137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607898)

A chicken and an egg were lying in bed, the chicken sitting back, leaning against the headboard with a big grin on his face.

The egg, looking quite angry and disappointed, rolled out of bed and said, "well I guess we answered that question!".

Re:The modified chicken came first! (0, Redundant)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609930)

> I've never understood all the fuss about the chicken and egg problem - they both taste great.

Yeah, kind of like snake. Or maybe iguana. Or ...

Fascinating modern age we live in (0, Offtopic)

AnnuitCoeptis (1049058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607108)

Engineered Hens Lay Cancer-Fighting Eggs wow, nice.

So which came first? (3, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607120)

The protein or the cancer?

the question remains (5, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607164)

The hens are, in effect, factories for cancer drugs. It is still unknown whether the resulting drugs would work in practice, and clinical trials are 5 years off.

Clinical trials are 5 years off? What are they, chicken?

Re:the question remains (1)

Gryle (933382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609152)

Sounds like a bunch of peckers if you ask me.

Bird flu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17615644)

They will actually fight cancer with bird flu..

This story is for the birds! (1)

kentrel (526003) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607168)

Someone had to say it.

Re:This story is for the birds! (1)

KUHurdler (584689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607772)

But does this answer which one came first?

Responsible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17607178)

the ones responsible responsible for Dolly the sheep

So whose responsible for cloning the word "responsible" in the summary?! That's just irresponsibly irresponsibe. :(

Re:Responsible? (3, Funny)

funfail (970288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607290)

It is a cancer word that uncontrollably reproduces.

Re:Responsible? (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608020)

Like a meme?

Re:Responsible? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607650)

That's called pre-duping. Why wait a few days for a dupe when you can it right in the original story?

I will not eat... (3, Funny)

p0rnographer (1051212) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607212)

green cancer fighting eggs and ham...

Re:I will not eat... (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608886)

Ham...... Ham that cures Aids, naturally

Re:I will not eat... (1)

jagdish (981925) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611252)

I will not eat... green cancer fighting eggs and ham...

Well we also have
Egg and spam
Egg, bacon and spam
Egg, bacon, sausage and spam
Spam, bacon, sausage and spam
Spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam
Spam, spam, spam, egg, and spam
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam

Re:I will not eat... (1)

cthulhu11 (842924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17638070)

Ironic, kinda like engineering tobacco plants to produce Albuterol.

you FaIl It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17607242)

loo4 At the

Lame Star Trek Joke... (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607296)

Laying an egg is a job where no engineer has gone before. :P

I for one... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17607304)

...welcome our cancer curing chicken overlords.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17607370)

damn, you beat me to it!

Eggs? (1, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607342)

Man, think about the cholesterol! I'm waiting for eggs that contain a statin and lower my cholesterol.

But seriously, why is this so much better than using a virus or phage as the vector for reproducing a protein?

Re:Eggs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17607616)

Proteins like highly purified alpha interferon are derived from human white blood cells, not a virus or phage.
It would be nice (and cheaper) to use modified eggs instead.

Re:Eggs? (3, Informative)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607800)

For one thing, it's easier to keep egg whites contained.
You get a lot of egg white at once. Chickens lay lots of large eggs, and the ones allowed to grow up to be chickens lay lots more large eggs. Each egg contains more white than the average petri dish can hold.
It's also simpler to feed a chicken than to feed a petri dish.

Re:Eggs? (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608296)

"But seriously, why is this so much better than using a virus or phage as the vector for reproducing a protein?"

It's easy to breed and care for chickens. We've been doing it for thousands of years. Viruses and phages require labs and exacting environmental control.

Re:Eggs? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17608986)

The problem with using a virus or phage system stems from the fact that these are prokaryote based systems. Many proteins need post-translational modifications such as cleavage, methylation, SUMOylation, etc. that only occur in eukaryotic systems such as man or chickens

Re:Eggs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17610610)

Because like the word Nuclear, or Atomic - or Genetic - the word Virus is innately "evil" in the public view and now modern science must take great leaps sideways to avoid all the proper terminology and instead develop chickens laying eggs that do what a simple virus would happily do now for a small fraction of the money.

Re:Eggs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17612460)

Virus/phage cant reproduce protein. Proteins are complex and require special cellular 'machinery' to produce them correctly. So my educated guess would be these proteins are complex and organisms like bacteria and fungi do not posses the machinery to produce these proteins. Higher up organisms, human, mouse, sheep, chicken etc have the cellular machinery to produce these proteins. (by machinery I am talking about protein splicing and folding)

Re:Eggs? (1)

iodopsin (1031818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17647330)

Basically if you start up with a few chickens with the ability to produce the protein they'll reproduce to give more of the little beauties. Just think by using virus's there is all the hassle of sorting out the genetic material to make them less harmful and there is always the possibility of immunity - in that case a new virus will have to be sorted out. People cannot become immune to chickens as far as I am aware and they are relatively cheep to keep... if you'll excuse the pun.

Oblig Simpsons quote (1, Funny)

Tz-Auber (984141) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607392)

"I for one welcome our genetically engineered chicken overloads!"

(I'm surprised no one else brought this up yet :)

Okay, no serious posts yet, so I'll bite (5, Insightful)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607398)

This has the potential to be a great advance in medicine and science related to cancer. Those of you who are trying for funny or sarcastic posts...would you rather have an option other than dying if you were diagnosed with cancer? I know that some folks out there won't be happy due to manipulation of "God's creatures" but if my wife, parents, or me was diagnosed with cancer, I would want as many options available as possible. This really is a potentially huge step in fighting cancers. It is especially important when you consider how few options there are in fighting most types of cancer. Chemotherapy is a long shot most times and makes you sick as hell before you MIGHT get better. Surgery has many shortfalls besides being invasive. This could be a huge step in making cancer a problem with much better odds of beating.

Re:Okay, no serious posts yet, so I'll bite (2, Insightful)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607866)

I agree with you but I guess that genetically modified cows would be a better source for tailored proteins. If there is a problem with getting enough viable animals (as has been with cloneing) to produce these tailored proteins then cows should be able to make massive amounts of these over their lifetime compared to chicken.

As for the "rightness" of manipulating animals to produce these proteins I think it's way more justified than just using them for our food. Any animal actually producing medical help will be a much better treated than ordinary farmstock because they're so much more valuable to us.

Not a vegan/vegetarian/whateverian. Farm animals have their place in the food chain. Let's not just take it to extremes.

Re:Okay, no serious posts yet, so I'll bite (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608246)

"I agree with you but I guess that genetically modified cows would be a better source for tailored proteins. If there is a problem with getting enough viable animals (as has been with cloneing) to produce these tailored proteins then cows should be able to make massive amounts of these over their lifetime compared to chicken. "

I agree in general. My wife and I raised chickens and ducks for eggs, not meat. They were pets and we enjoyed them immensely. You might be surprised however at their longevity. We had many that lived for more than five years. The ones that didn't were the ones that the owls, hawks, and coyotes made meals of. Such is the life of prey animals that are free range. Volume wise and longevity wise, cows are obviously superior. But, chickens can certainly be productive over a good span. I think you are also quite correct about them being cared for better than regular farm stock. Their importance as a medicinal source makes them much more valuable than just another KFC bucket.

Re: KFC (3, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608346)

Their importance as a medicinal source makes them much more valuable than just another KFC bucket.

I'm still waiting for them to cross chickens with octopii ... everyone gets a drumstick.

Chickens are better than cows. The furst words of the article summary:

"Hens that lay eggs containing cancer-fighting proteins ...

Somehow, I don't see cow eggs as being able to compete, either in quantity, or in ease of access, to hen eggs :-)

Re: KFC (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608416)

"Somehow, I don't see cow eggs as being able to compete, either in quantity, or in ease of access, to hen eggs :-)"

Ahh! But what about cow milk! :)

Re: KFC (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608610)

Hens can start laying eggs after 20 weeks.
http://gworrell.freeyellow.com/chickenfaq.html [freeyellow.com]

Cows, on the other hand, only start producing milk after their first calf (so 2 years old before they get preggo, then another 9 months gestation). http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/farm/cows/cow_milk.h tml [animalcorner.co.uk]

Also, you can use lower-quality feed for chickens - up to 87% chicken shit.

Re: KFC (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608910)

From experience...chickens can and will start laying before 20 weeks. Ducks too. That's a great benefit with chickens over cows. Plus, chickens require a lot less feed and care than cows. Of course avian flu might have the potential to fuck things up a bit. No matter, a cancer fighting benefit from either is a huge plus.

Re: KFC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17629418)

True enough, but once that cow gets going, she's going to catch up awfully fast, easily making up for the three year delay in first few days.

Given average egg protein contents of 7g and one egg per day, you're going to need 170 chickens to produce as much as one dairy cow averaging 35 liters of milk with 3.4% protein a day.

Now, whether or not feeding 170 chickens is cheaper than feeding one cow, no clue.

Re:Okay, no serious posts yet, so I'll bite (2, Interesting)

Nutty_Irishman (729030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609410)

Dealth is something we all have to face some day. Whether it be from Cancer, Heart attack, or a car accident. We joke about it because it's our way to relate to something that we know will happen to us.

Me, I'm not worried about death itself, but the way I go. Every 10 years, the average life expectancy increases by 2 1/2 years-- yet very little has been done to increase the quality of life in our later ages. I'd rather die young while my quality of life is good than older stuck in a nursing home having some one take care of me. We can make as many miracule drugs we want that prolong the life of an individual, but if we don't do something to make that life worth living for, then we have defeated the purpose. That's why I view stories like these as bittersweet.

Re:Okay, no serious posts yet, so I'll bite (1)

mmdog (34909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610118)

[quote]...very little has been done to increase the quality of life in our later ages...[/quote] While I am not trying to suggest that I am satisfied with progress on geriatric quality of life, I am curious to know how you quantify this statement. I can only offer anecdotal evidence, within my own lifespan I have personally witnessed what appears to be a very significant improvement in the quality of life at later ages. I barely knew my paternal grandfather, who died at 56 of a heart attack. What little I do know of him, was that he spent his last few years in very poor health. His wife lived to 85 and to be honest, the only reason she deteriorated in her final years was that she simply refused to follow the advice of her doctors any longer. (I vividly recall her 93 year-old sister chiding her for not sticking with her physical therapy after breaking her leg in a fall.) My father is the oldest of five siblings and at 68 still goes to the gym at least three days a week and still participates in things like playing lazer tag with his grandchildren. The story on my mother's side is not quite so bright but even so, she and her surviving siblings are without exception more active and engaged in life in their late 60's than either of their parents were in their late 50's. The story with my wife's relatives is much the same both of her parents are over 60 now and in good enough shape to play golf four or five times a week, go to the pool with their grandchildren and generally live a more lively social life than even my wife and I manage. Maybe my experience is out of the norm, but I really don't think so. Fitness and healthy living really did become a lot more important over the last three or four decades, and I think we are now seeing the result of that trend. Personally I am in favor of anything that pushes the average lifespan up (and yes, I'm willing to acknowledge and deal with the issues that creates on a global level.)

Re:Okay, no serious posts yet, so I'll bite (1)

mmdog (34909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610130)

Wow, sorry for the crappy formatting. I guess that will teach me to use the preview option.

Re:Okay, no serious posts yet, so I'll bite (1)

l0cust (992700) | more than 7 years ago | (#17625388)

I agree with you for the most part. But the thing is, its all very fine to talk like that when you (or anyone you love) are NOT in a position where you are facing death in the face. I would rather have the option of getting rid of any cancer I may or may not get in future, than just believe that I will be content with the quality of life I had when I am lying in a bed in ICU in some hospital. What if I am diagnosed with some deadly form of cancer at something like 35. I don't think I would like to die at that age no matter how good my life has been till then. Add to this the fact that I don't believe in God or reincarnation or any other soothing things like that.

Don't get me wrong. I KNOW that I will die one day no matter how much I can try to delay the inevitable, but I wouldn't be content with my death when it could have been avoided if enough medical research was done for a cure of something as old as cancer. Not that it matters in the long run but I, for one, welcome any research which can be done to prolong the lifetime of humans and cure them of life-threatening diseases. Would you be content with the quality of life of your 10 year old daughter if she was diagnosed with cancer and was looking at 2-3 months of life at the most? Won't you wish there was a cure so she could live longer ?

Saying things like "I am not worried about death" is redundant when you are not facing it. And what exactly is "Life worth living" ? That you 'helped' as many people as you could? Gave food and clothes to the poor and helped old ladies cross the road? Saved the life of 100 children drowning in a river? Believed in your God to the end and walked the religious path strictly all your life? Killed the infidels who were minions of satans/shaitaan? Lead your country in a war and won it? Raped and killed dozens of girls because the voice of God in your head told you to? Lived in a small hut on a secluded mountain top in Himalayas meditating about the teachings of Buddha? Went to temple/mosque every Tuesday/Friday and made sure your children grow up in a nice religious Hindu/Muslim environment? Played as many games as you can because they made you feel better ? That phrase is so overused and cliched that there is no meaning left to relate to. A life worth living to you maybe the most detestable life for someone else. Generalizations are all nice and dandy, but preaching them to All people just does not work.

Re:Okay, no serious posts yet, so I'll bite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17610860)

You want serious? They can't patent proper diet and regular exercise which do more to fight cancer than any drug they have yet invented. So instead they do things like this that will make them loads of money.

I will tell them, "No thanks, now give me some damn non-patented nutritious vegies!"

Re:Okay, no serious posts yet, so I'll bite (1)

mcostas (973159) | more than 7 years ago | (#17615482)

Why do people always have such deluded and unwarranted positive views of articles like this? This isn't a cure for cancer, or even a new treatment at all. It is only a new way to manufacture a drug. So it might save pharmaceutical companies a buck and increase their profits. There's of course no precedent to believe the lower cost would be passed to consumers. On the other hand, it's one more example of turning individual conscious beings into factories. I find it strange that you mention some people will be against this because of what it does to "God's creatures". Yet it is a belief in God and a special magical place in the universe he has placed man that leads most people to believe that any amount of pain and suffering inflicted on any non-human species is OK even if it brings negligible gain or just entertainment to a human.

Thus it begins (1, Interesting)

Leto-II (1509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607420)

So now we've created Axlotl Hens? Next step, Axlotl tanks.

Re:Thus it begins (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608506)

Axlotl tanks are made from PEOPLE
 
/no really, they are [wikipedia.org]

Re:Thus it begins (1)

egandalf (1051424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612516)

Actually, this IS an axlotl tank. They just call it an interspecies axlotl tank. Next stop, artificial melange and interstellar travel. Who wants to be first to volunteer to become a mutated mass of useless tissue with an oversized brain? Anyone?

This guy goes to a psychiatrist (4, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607464)

and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs."

bi)tch (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17607682)

you're screwed (1)

sameeer (946332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607688)

you're screwed if you're a vegan

Re:you're screwed (2)

Gryle (933382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608146)

Well that goes without saying.

Re:you're screwed (2)

6ame633k (921453) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609984)

ummm...you don't eat them - the proteins (interferon b-1a, miR24) are extracted from the egg whites and used in creating treatments for various types of cancers as well as other diseases such as MS. I imagine it's less expensive than creating those proteins artifically in a lab like *i think* they do for insulin (also a protein) ...that's kewl.

Re:you're screwed (1)

guywcole (984149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17615662)

Actually, most vegans refuse animal products, byproducts, and other things which production depends on the abuse of animals. So, using these eggs (or derivative science from them) would be (at best) like using make up tested on animals.

Anyhow, the standard /. reply is of course "who cares? they have these stupid beliefs, let those stupid (creationists | vegans | amish) die because they don't like this science!"

Re:you're screwed (1)

6ame633k (921453) | more than 7 years ago | (#17617026)

Good point. Damn Vegans, I dated one for years, I *should* have known that. I guess what threw me is he liked to put makeup on animals :) *** Nacho: I'm not listening to you! You only believe in Science. That's probably why we never win! Esqueleto: We never win because you are fat!

What's the point of this article? (1)

d474 (695126) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607756)

This is a self-contradicting article. It claims that these chickens have cancer fighting proteins... but then turns around and says that not only is it not known if this stuff will actually work (huh?), but we won't even know for 5 more years.

What, may I ask, is the friggin' point of this article? (Other than to get people's hopes up and sell news?)

Re:What's the point of this article? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609980)

Brought to you by your local Egg Marketing Board. *Ka-Ching*!

Re:What's the point of this article? (1)

drcoppersmith (1048722) | more than 7 years ago | (#17613294)

To be fair to them: They say that this might work. They're producing proteins that are needed to make the cancer drugs that we use now... only at a fraction of the price. This article is a "look at what we thought up" article, the kind that gets scientists thinking differently about things, and in my opinion, is helpful for advancements. No one of us has the solution for cancer, but as history has shown: there's very little that the human population as a whole can't figure out. That is, when we're not busy killing each other.

All in all, it is a useful bit of information: nobody had made chickens produce drugs until now. That's kinda cool. Is it ultimately going to mean the end of cancer? Probably not. Is it going to mean cheaper cancer meds? Probably. Is it going to mean cheaper meds for other diseases? Quite possibly.

Take it a step further and with something else that invades the news: Most flu vaccines are made in eggs, unless I'm mistaken, during a long process and incubation period. What if we can engineer chickens to produce the proteins in their eggs to fight the bird-flu? And if not the bird-flu, what about the next disease coming along and threatening to wipe out a significant portion of our planet?

Sure, they don't cure cancer, but they did take us a step closer.

Mmmm (0, Offtopic)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17607902)

Engineered eggs and Penicill-Os [wikipedia.org] for breakfast! It's the one-two punch that knocks out cancer and syphilis!

-Peter

Uh, this does not scare you? (-1, Troll)

Heembo (916647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608064)

Does anyone here beside me worry that tampering with mother nature to this degree could have harmful repercussions? Last time I posted here about Genetically Modified Foods I got dugg-down. Whats the deal?

Re:Uh, this does not scare you? (1)

Jasper__unique_dammi (901401) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609754)

Ye, we should wait untill nanotechnology proves that organisms are only machines aswel! /joke
I know there are ethical concerns, but things like these can be done ethically and with reasonable risks.
BTW I mean real nanotechnology! Not the precursor we have now! The small machines need to build themselves for a large part.

Re:Uh, this does not scare you? (1)

shastry (1046162) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610260)

Is it not remotely possible that humans were actually genetically enginereed from monkeys by some crazy species long long ago?

Re:Uh, this does not scare you? (1)

Heembo (916647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610944)

I welcome my time-traveling monkey genetic-tampering overlords! I just don't want scientists messin' with the genetics of the veggies and animals that I eat!

Roslin Institute? Cancer-curing eggs? (1)

LadyVirharper (804893) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608086)

These aren't normal chickens...these are cylon chickens!

I sense.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17608134)

Super Chicken in the pathology lab! Let me be the first to say...


Bucka-bucka-bucka-bucka-bucka-bucka-BUCKA-buck!!

The Umbrella Corporation (1)

Lakebeach (878698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608310)

This product is brought to you by the Unbrella Corporation.
Our business is life itself.

(Some side effects may occur)

What's a genetically engineered henway? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609444)

Oh, about four pounds.

if they could clone a low cholesterol pig (1)

dididothat (1043756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609488)

perhaps if they clone a low cholesteral pig, we could enjoy healthy bacon, and an engineered egg or two. and dont forget some engineered wheat to process into some bread for toast. yes, and make it whole (engineered) wheat bread, with a margerine made from engineered corn......hold it, if this was eaten BY an engineer, would that make him/her a cannibal?

Fantastic news (1)

steveoc (2661) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609584)

That is actually fantastic news, and should prove to be a huge benefit to the production of otherwise expensive proteins for use in medicine. Well done !!

I particularly like this quote from the article :

'The only real problem is collecting the eggs. Unlike standard chickens, these muthers have 8 legs, and shoot laser beams out of their eyes - which makes collecting the eggs a real bastard of a job'.

bad yolks - enjoy! (1)

martyb (196687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609604)

"Hens that lay eggs containing cancer-fighting proteins...

Here, let me get things started with a couple of yolks:

  • Doctor, handing two eggs to a patient, "Take two of these and call me in the morning."
  • That's gonna be a tough pill to swallow.
  • Medicine is not all it's cracked up to be.

5 years. at least. (1)

ratsmell (1051278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609622)

A few problems that will cause this idea to take several years to, er, hatch...

Genetically engineered animals and plants have been used to make therapeutic proteins before (but not commercially yet, AFAIK). However, a good fraction of the cost in making such proteins is the purification, not the initial production. Animals, plants, eggs, milk all have to be purified before a therapeutic drug is usable and the costs there are more like phoenix feed. [Such drugs have to be injected, you can't eat the egg etc., the protein would simply be digested in the stomach].

In this age of avian influenza, we'd have to develop ways to test for avian viruses and a way to test for residual egg proteins in the purified drug. Some people are allergic to eggs you know... So that's 2-4 years right there. Plus you have to convince regulatory authorities (FDA) that you've got a valid set of such tests.

And would such proteins be good drugs even if pure? What would be the post-translational modifications? Ooh look, a link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-translational_mo dification [wikipedia.org] Birds don't do things quite like humans do, so the non-protein parts of the drug (glycosylation, phosphorylation etc.) would be different from human proteins. Would these mods. create an allergic reaction even if all egg proteins had been removed? Would they have the same or suitable pharmacokinetics (how a drug moves around and out of the body)? If not, what clinical trials would be needed to find the answers?

Similar questions have been answered over the years for proteins made in cell culture and by microbial fermentation. Eggs got some catching up to do. Possible, but expensive and a long process.

Mind you, it would be fun developing an industrial egg cracker. Nah, they probably already exist in the food industry. Insert Humpty Dumpty joke.

Re:5 years. at least. (1)

IIsMeYouIsNot (991014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610556)

However, a good fraction of the cost in making such proteins is the purification, not the initial production...In this age of avian influenza, we'd have to develop ways to test for avian viruses and a way to test for residual egg proteins in the purified drug
First off let me just say that separation of proteins is a rather standard thing in biochemistry there are a myriad of ways to do it probably the easiest and most widely used, atleast in biochemistry labs, is HPLC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HPLC/ [wikipedia.org] . The ability to separate things is also incredibly dependant on the concentration of protein in the egg whites if they weren't getting a ton of protein it just wouldn't be worthwhile anyway. Also if you don't believe me perhaps a quote from TFA

The proteins are secreted into the whites of the eggs. It is a fairly straightforward process then to extract and purify them.
Also if you read the article and knew a bit of biochemistry you would know that post-translational modification doesn't really apply here because as stated in the article they are getting the protiens they want not modified ones. So thanks for throwing around Biochem buzzwords but seriously RTFA and try and get your facts straight.

Re:5 years. at least. (1)

ratsmell (1051278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17616568)

Well, apparently I didn't make myself clear enough. I'll try using shorter words.
Simple doesn't mean cheap.
Hope that was clear. Purification costs are typically 2/3 of the COG for a biopharmaceutical. Oh crap, I used more jargon. Scientists in biochemistry labs., such as myself, may be brilliant and admirable, which apparently I'm not, but often they don't consider regulatory and industrial requirements when devising new protein production systems. Maybe they have indeed thought about it in this case, and hence the article's discussion of a 5 year wait which I was partially explaining after others expressed surprise. And trust me on the post translational modifications, they will be different. Maybe this is the wrong forum to be discussing this technology.

Re:5 years. at least. (2, Interesting)

kokyuho (151933) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611300)

Ho Hum. Nice article but a bit anticlimactic. These guys are NOT the first to do this. Roslin institute is more than a year behind at least one other company. A good friend of mine, by the name of William MacArthur who is a brilliant Molecular Biologist, founded a company called Geneworks in Ann Arbor, Michigan several years ago with the goal of creating transgenic chickens that do exactly the same thing as the chickens described in the article. He succeeded and more than a year ago had pure-breeding, transgenic chickens. Before anyone else in the world. He had been in regular contact with Amgen, Genentech, and all the "Big Boys" and also received FDA certification. In addition to creating the chickens, he developed a simple and cheap way of extracting whatever protein had been created from the egg. His company had either one or two huge chicken barns in Southeastern Michigan and they just needed a bit more capital to make it "over the hump" and really take off. Ironically enough, none of the big companies would give him the relatively small amount of capital that he needed to continue because, as he explained it to me, their risk assessment programs were all based on drugs manufactured in a drug factory and as such, they had no way to evaluate his new methods, so they wouldn't give him any funding and Geneworks had to shut down in August 2005. I happened to stop in at their offices as they were loading up the equipment and getting ready to auction it off. However some of his transgenic chickens were donated to a university (I don't remember which one) so that the line could continue. By the way the folks at the Roslin institute know who Bill Mac Arthur is and what he was able to do.

Link to Avian Transgenics page (April 2005) (1)

kokyuho (151933) | more than 7 years ago | (#17612630)

In case anyone is interested, here is a link to a a relevant page: Human Proteins from transgenic Avians [deccanherald.com]

Bird Flu? (1)

The Famous Druid (89404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611072)

Hmmm... genetically engineering chickens with human DNA.

Am I just paranoid, or is this a good way of helping bird-flu jump the species barrier ?

Ok. Anyone... (1)

neimon (713907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17614928)

...ever heard of a Scotch Egg? Hardboiled, wrapped in sausage meat, breaded then fried?

Cancer-fighting, yup.

Re:Ok. Anyone... (1)

fluffy666 (582573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17626768)

You mean, if you die of a heart attack at 50 you are unlikely to die of cancer?

Clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17615154)

"We have bred five generations of chickens so far and they all keep producing high concentrations of pharmaceuticals"

- the chickens' genes/proteins are for making pharmaceuticals, the chickens themselves are not doing lab work

Why just Cancer fighting eggs (1)

DBCubix (1027232) | more than 7 years ago | (#17617250)

Instead of engineering chickens to produce cancer-fighting eggs, which only solves one problem of cancer, why not genetically engineer chickens to lay rocks of crack? That way chickens are 1. providing an economic contribution to society, 2. crack dealers learn the valuable skills of animal husbandry, 3. society benefits from cheaper crack and 4. crack production is outsourced to rural areas producing more jobs.

What the? (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17619846)

No way.
Rural drug dealers have already (re)discovered meth. Meth already "fixes" points 1, 3, and 4.
If they engineered chickens that laid pseudoephedrine, maybe then the rural drug dealers would be interested. For that matter, Big Pharma might be interested.

Spiders and Goats and Cows, Oh My! (1)

writerjosh (862522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17633710)

Here's a great article on the pros and cons of "pharming" (deriving medicinal properties from animals):
pharming article [utah.edu]

"Spiderman II: Spidergoat? It sounds like a sequel to "Spiderman: The Movie" - Spidergoat! OK, maybe not, but it is a very interesting application of transgenics. The dragline form of spider silk is regarded as the strongest material known; it's 5 times stronger than steel and twice as strong as Kevlar. People have actually tried starting "spider farms" to harvest silk, but the spiders are too aggressive and territorial to live close together. They also like to eat each other.

Though the genes for dragline silk were isolated several years ago, attempts to produce it in bacterial and mammalian cell culture have failed. When the genes were put into a goat and expressed in the mammary glands, however, the animal produced silk proteins in its milk that could be spun into a fine thread with all the properties of spider-made silk. This can be used to make lighter, stronger bulletproof vests, thinner thread for surgery and stitches or indestructible clothes."
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