Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Engineered chickens make cancer drugs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A team at the institute that cloned Dolly the sheep have made a genetically engineered chicken that produces cancer drugs in its eggs.

The chickens produce the cancer drugs in their egg whites, the team at the Roslin Biocentre in Edinburgh reported.

The drugs include a monoclonal antibody -- themselves lab-engineered immune system proteins -- and a human immune system protein used to treat cancer and other conditions, the researchers report in the upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

These drugs are not easy to make in the lab. "Many human therapeutic proteins, such as monoclonal antibodies, are produced in industrial bioreactors, but setting up such systems is both time-consuming and expensive," the researchers wrote.

Scientists have been trying to find good ways to turn animals into factories instead -- given that animals naturally make such proteins anyway.

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