Japanese researchers have genetically engineered hens whose eggs contain drugs that can fight serious diseases including cancer, in a bid to dramatically reduce the cost of treatment, a report said Monday.
If the scientists are able to safely produce “interferon beta”, a type of protein used to treat illnesses including multiple sclerosis and hepatitis, by rearing the hens, the price of the drug — currently up to 100,000 yen ($888) for a few microgrammes — could fall significantly, said the English edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun.
Researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in the Kansai region kicked off the process by introducing genes that produce interferon beta into cells which are precursors of chicken sperm, the newspaper reported.
They then used these cells to fertilise eggs and create hens which inherited those genes, meaning the birds were able to lay eggs containing the disease-fighting agent.
The scientists now have three hens whose eggs contain the drug, with the birds laying eggs almost daily, the report said.