Researchers have developed genetically modified canines that can deposit eggs that contain proteins used to fight arthritis and some cancers.
They hope that the discovery someday will lead to the production of life-saving drugs at a much lower cost.
Initially, proteins will be used in research, but laboratory tests have already shown that they work at least as equivalent drugs.
The new research was developed by the Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in collaboration with Roslin Technologies.
Papitas Chickens & # 39;
According to researcher Lissa Herron of Roslin Technologies, chickens do not suffer and are more "pampered" than farm animals.
"They live in very large enclosures. They are fed, hydrated and cared daily by highly trained technicians, they have a very comfortable life."
"For chicken, it's like putting a normal egg inside. It does not affect your health at all, just keep what you already do, put the eggs normally."
Scientists have already shown that animals such as genetically modified goats, rabbits and chickens can be used to produce proteins with therapeutic properties in their milk or eggs.
But researchers say the new approach is more efficient, produces better results and is more profitable than previous attempts.
"Production from chicken eggs can cost between 10 and 100 times less than the factories, so I think we will get at least 10 times less than the total cost of industrial manufacturing," says Herron.
The biggest savings come from the fact that chicken sheds are much cheaper to build and operate which highly clean and sterilized laboratories for industrial production.
Many diseases are caused because our body does not naturally produce enough of a certain chemical product or protein. Health problems of this kind can be controlled with medications that contain the missing protein.
These drugs are synthetically produced by pharmaceutical companies and can be very expensive to manufacture.
Herron and his colleagues managed to reduce these costs by inserting a human gene in the DNA part of the chickens responsible for egg whites.
Two types of proteins
After breaking the eggs, the scientists leave the yolk aside. It is clear that the treasure: large amounts of clinically important proteins.
"These proteins are too expensive to produce," says Herron, "because you can not just synthesize them in a chemistry lab."
"You need a living system to make them because proteins are very large and very complex molecules and they need the entire machine of a cell to produce properly."
So far, chickens have been genetically engineered to produce two types of proteins that are essential for the immune system.
One of them is the interferon alpha 2a, which has powerful anti-viral and anticancer effects; and the other is the macrophage CSF, which is being developed as a therapy that stimulates damaged tissues to regenerate.
Three eggs are enough to produce a dose of the drug, and chickens can place up to 300 eggs per year. With enough chickens, researchers believe they can produce or remedy the commercial scale.
The development of medications for human health, with all the necessary regulatory procedures, will be between 10 and 20 years.
Researchers hope they use chickens to develop pet drugs.
This includes medications that stimulate the immune system of agricultural animals as an alternative to antibiotics, which would reduce the risk of developing new strains of resistant strains of treatment. And there is the potential to use the healing properties of the CSF macrophage to treat pets, according to Herron.
"For example, we can use it to regenerate the liver or kidneys of a pet that has suffered damage to these organs. The drugs currently available are a bit too expensive, so we hope to move further," he explained.
"We are not producing medications for people yet, but this study shows that chickens are commercially viable to produce adequate proteins for new drug studies and other applications in biotechnology," said Professor Helen Sang of the Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh.