A team of scientists in Japan have taken genetic engineering a notch higher by inventing a breed of hens that can lay eggs filled with cancer-fighting drugs. This has been made possible with the help of genome editing.
To create these medicated eggs, researchers genetically modified the chicken sperm that led to breeding a generation of hens that can lay cancer-fighting eggs.
The team of researchers were from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan’s Kansai and they used genome-editing by introducing genes that can produce interferon beta into the precursors of chicken sperm. Simply put, they altered the chicken DNA so that it can produce cancer-fighting eggs.
The cancer-fighting drug referred to as interferon beta is actually a type of protein that is used to treat various diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), certain types of cancer and even hepatitis.
But the interferon beta can be very costly and a few micro-grams can cost as much as 100,000 yen (888 USD). Therefore, the team is planning to sell the interferon beta to pharmaceutical companies that may be able to reduce it to 10 per cent of its current cost.
Till now, they have developed three hens that can produce medicated cancer-fighting eggs regularly and they eventually hope to harvest up to 100 milligrams from just one egg.