29 January 2019

Feathered bioreactors

Initially, researchers at the University of Edinburgh worked on a method of producing high-quality proteins for research purposes using genetically modified chickens. However, it turned out that the resulting compounds work at least as well as proteins obtained using traditional methods.

The simple enrichment system proposed by the authors makes it possible to obtain large amounts of proteins from chicken eggs without harming birds laying eggs in the usual way.

Chicken eggs have long been used as a medium for growing viruses used for the production of influenza vaccines. The approach developed by the authors differs in that therapeutic proteins are encoded in chicken DNA and synthesized as components of egg protein.

Initially, the researchers worked with two proteins that are important for the immune system and have therapeutic potential: interferon-alpha-2a – which has a powerful antiviral and antitumor effect, as well as human and porcine versions of macrophage colony-stimulating factor, the preparation of which is being developed as a means to stimulate damaged tissues to self-recovery.

Only three eggs are enough to produce a clinical dose of the drug. One hen is able to lay up to 300 eggs per year, so the authors believe that with regard to a number of important drugs, their proposed approach may be more cost-effective compared to other production methods.

The new technology has not yet been used to treat patients, but the results obtained indicate its suitability and adaptability to perform such tasks.

The candidates for the "chicken" synthesis include antitumor drugs based on monoclonal antibodies, such as avastin and herceptin. To date, the synthesis of a sufficient number of such drugs involves the use of mammalian cell cultures, which is expensive and unproductive. Other production methods require complex cleaning and additional processing systems, which greatly increases costs.

Previously, scientists have already demonstrated the possibility of using genetically modified goats, rabbits and chickens for the production of protein preparations in milk or eggs. The authors claim that the new approach they have developed provides a higher yield of the drug and is more cost-effective than earlier methods.

Article by Lissa R. Herron et al. A chicken bioreactor for efficient production of functional cytokines is published in the journal BMC Biotechnology.

Evgenia Ryabtseva, portal "Eternal Youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of the University of Edinburgh: Hen eggs set to crack future drug production.

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