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Biotech Science

Engineered Hens Lay Cancer-Fighting Eggs 92

Posted by kdawson
from the egg-a-day-keeps-the-tumors-away dept.
celardore writes "Hens that lay eggs containing cancer-fighting proteins have been developed in Scotland. While not themselves cancer-antagonistic, the proteins can be used to create drugs that have cancer-fighting potential. The hens are, in effect, factories for cancer drugs. It is still unknown whether the resulting drugs would work in practice, and clinical trials are 5 years off. This research was conducted by the Roslin Institute, the ones responsible responsible for Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal."
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Engineered Hens Lay Cancer-Fighting Eggs

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  • by Timesprout (579035) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @07:22PM (#17607120)
    The protein or the cancer?
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @07:26PM (#17607164) Homepage
    The hens are, in effect, factories for cancer drugs. It is still unknown whether the resulting drugs would work in practice, and clinical trials are 5 years off.

    Clinical trials are 5 years off? What are they, chicken?
  • Someone had to say it.
  • by p0rnographer (1051212) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @07:30PM (#17607212)
    green cancer fighting eggs and ham...
    • Ham...... Ham that cures Aids, naturally
    • by jagdish (981925)
      I will not eat... green cancer fighting eggs and ham...

      Well we also have
      Egg and spam
      Egg, bacon and spam
      Egg, bacon, sausage and spam
      Spam, bacon, sausage and spam
      Spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam
      Spam, spam, spam, egg, and spam
      Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam
  • by creimer (824291) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @07:39PM (#17607296) Homepage
    Laying an egg is a job where no engineer has gone before. :P
  • Eggs? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MMC Monster (602931)
    Man, think about the cholesterol! I'm waiting for eggs that contain a statin and lower my cholesterol.

    But seriously, why is this so much better than using a virus or phage as the vector for reproducing a protein?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      For one thing, it's easier to keep egg whites contained.
      You get a lot of egg white at once. Chickens lay lots of large eggs, and the ones allowed to grow up to be chickens lay lots more large eggs. Each egg contains more white than the average petri dish can hold.
      It's also simpler to feed a chicken than to feed a petri dish.
    • "But seriously, why is this so much better than using a virus or phage as the vector for reproducing a protein?"

      It's easy to breed and care for chickens. We've been doing it for thousands of years. Viruses and phages require labs and exacting environmental control.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The problem with using a virus or phage system stems from the fact that these are prokaryote based systems. Many proteins need post-translational modifications such as cleavage, methylation, SUMOylation, etc. that only occur in eukaryotic systems such as man or chickens
    • by iodopsin (1031818)
      Basically if you start up with a few chickens with the ability to produce the protein they'll reproduce to give more of the little beauties. Just think by using virus's there is all the hassle of sorting out the genetic material to make them less harmful and there is always the possibility of immunity - in that case a new virus will have to be sorted out. People cannot become immune to chickens as far as I am aware and they are relatively cheep to keep... if you'll excuse the pun.
  • "I for one welcome our genetically engineered chicken overloads!"

    (I'm surprised no one else brought this up yet :)

  • by alshithead (981606) * on Sunday January 14, 2007 @07:54PM (#17607398)
    This has the potential to be a great advance in medicine and science related to cancer. Those of you who are trying for funny or sarcastic posts...would you rather have an option other than dying if you were diagnosed with cancer? I know that some folks out there won't be happy due to manipulation of "God's creatures" but if my wife, parents, or me was diagnosed with cancer, I would want as many options available as possible. This really is a potentially huge step in fighting cancers. It is especially important when you consider how few options there are in fighting most types of cancer. Chemotherapy is a long shot most times and makes you sick as hell before you MIGHT get better. Surgery has many shortfalls besides being invasive. This could be a huge step in making cancer a problem with much better odds of beating.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KokorHekkus (986906)
      I agree with you but I guess that genetically modified cows would be a better source for tailored proteins. If there is a problem with getting enough viable animals (as has been with cloneing) to produce these tailored proteins then cows should be able to make massive amounts of these over their lifetime compared to chicken.

      As for the "rightness" of manipulating animals to produce these proteins I think it's way more justified than just using them for our food. Any animal actually producing medical help
      • "I agree with you but I guess that genetically modified cows would be a better source for tailored proteins. If there is a problem with getting enough viable animals (as has been with cloneing) to produce these tailored proteins then cows should be able to make massive amounts of these over their lifetime compared to chicken. "

        I agree in general. My wife and I raised chickens and ducks for eggs, not meat. They were pets and we enjoyed them immensely. You might be surprised however at their longevity. We
        • Re: KFC (Score:4, Funny)

          by tomhudson (43916) <`moc.nosduh-arab ... `nosduh.arabrab'> on Sunday January 14, 2007 @09:50PM (#17608346) Journal

          Their importance as a medicinal source makes them much more valuable than just another KFC bucket.

          I'm still waiting for them to cross chickens with octopii ... everyone gets a drumstick.

          Chickens are better than cows. The furst words of the article summary:

          "Hens that lay eggs containing cancer-fighting proteins ...

          Somehow, I don't see cow eggs as being able to compete, either in quantity, or in ease of access, to hen eggs :-)

          • "Somehow, I don't see cow eggs as being able to compete, either in quantity, or in ease of access, to hen eggs :-)"

            Ahh! But what about cow milk! :)
            • by tomhudson (43916)

              Hens can start laying eggs after 20 weeks.
              http://gworrell.freeyellow.com/chickenfaq.html [freeyellow.com]

              Cows, on the other hand, only start producing milk after their first calf (so 2 years old before they get preggo, then another 9 months gestation). http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/farm/cows/cow_milk.h tml [animalcorner.co.uk]

              Also, you can use lower-quality feed for chickens - up to 87% chicken shit.

              • From experience...chickens can and will start laying before 20 weeks. Ducks too. That's a great benefit with chickens over cows. Plus, chickens require a lot less feed and care than cows. Of course avian flu might have the potential to fuck things up a bit. No matter, a cancer fighting benefit from either is a huge plus.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Dealth is something we all have to face some day. Whether it be from Cancer, Heart attack, or a car accident. We joke about it because it's our way to relate to something that we know will happen to us.

      Me, I'm not worried about death itself, but the way I go. Every 10 years, the average life expectancy increases by 2 1/2 years-- yet very little has been done to increase the quality of life in our later ages. I'd rather die young while my quality of life is good than older stuck in a nursing home having
      • by mmdog (34909)
        [quote]...very little has been done to increase the quality of life in our later ages...[/quote] While I am not trying to suggest that I am satisfied with progress on geriatric quality of life, I am curious to know how you quantify this statement. I can only offer anecdotal evidence, within my own lifespan I have personally witnessed what appears to be a very significant improvement in the quality of life at later ages. I barely knew my paternal grandfather, who died at 56 of a heart attack. What little
        • by mmdog (34909)
          Wow, sorry for the crappy formatting. I guess that will teach me to use the preview option.
      • by l0cust (992700)
        I agree with you for the most part. But the thing is, its all very fine to talk like that when you (or anyone you love) are NOT in a position where you are facing death in the face. I would rather have the option of getting rid of any cancer I may or may not get in future, than just believe that I will be content with the quality of life I had when I am lying in a bed in ICU in some hospital. What if I am diagnosed with some deadly form of cancer at something like 35. I don't think I would like to die at th
    • by mcostas (973159)
      Why do people always have such deluded and unwarranted positive views of articles like this? This isn't a cure for cancer, or even a new treatment at all. It is only a new way to manufacture a drug. So it might save pharmaceutical companies a buck and increase their profits. There's of course no precedent to believe the lower cost would be passed to consumers. On the other hand, it's one more example of turning individual conscious beings into factories. I find it strange that you mention some people
  • Thus it begins (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Leto-II (1509)
    So now we've created Axlotl Hens? Next step, Axlotl tanks.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      Axlotl tanks are made from PEOPLE
       
      /no really, they are [wikipedia.org]
    • by egandalf (1051424)
      Actually, this IS an axlotl tank. They just call it an interspecies axlotl tank. Next stop, artificial melange and interstellar travel. Who wants to be first to volunteer to become a mutated mass of useless tissue with an oversized brain? Anyone?
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Sunday January 14, 2007 @08:03PM (#17607464) Journal
    and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs."
  • you're screwed if you're a vegan
    • by Gryle (933382)
      Well that goes without saying.
    • by 6ame633k (921453)
      ummm...you don't eat them - the proteins (interferon b-1a, miR24) are extracted from the egg whites and used in creating treatments for various types of cancers as well as other diseases such as MS. I imagine it's less expensive than creating those proteins artifically in a lab like *i think* they do for insulin (also a protein) ...that's kewl.
      • by guywcole (984149)
        Actually, most vegans refuse animal products, byproducts, and other things which production depends on the abuse of animals. So, using these eggs (or derivative science from them) would be (at best) like using make up tested on animals.

        Anyhow, the standard /. reply is of course "who cares? they have these stupid beliefs, let those stupid (creationists | vegans | amish) die because they don't like this science!"
        • by 6ame633k (921453)
          Good point. Damn Vegans, I dated one for years, I *should* have known that. I guess what threw me is he liked to put makeup on animals :) *** Nacho: I'm not listening to you! You only believe in Science. That's probably why we never win! Esqueleto: We never win because you are fat!
  • This is a self-contradicting article. It claims that these chickens have cancer fighting proteins... but then turns around and says that not only is it not known if this stuff will actually work (huh?), but we won't even know for 5 more years.

    What, may I ask, is the friggin' point of this article? (Other than to get people's hopes up and sell news?)
    • Brought to you by your local Egg Marketing Board. *Ka-Ching*!
    • To be fair to them: They say that this might work. They're producing proteins that are needed to make the cancer drugs that we use now... only at a fraction of the price. This article is a "look at what we thought up" article, the kind that gets scientists thinking differently about things, and in my opinion, is helpful for advancements. No one of us has the solution for cancer, but as history has shown: there's very little that the human population as a whole can't figure out. That is, when we're not busy
  • These aren't normal chickens...these are cylon chickens!
  • perhaps if they clone a low cholesteral pig, we could enjoy healthy bacon, and an engineered egg or two. and dont forget some engineered wheat to process into some bread for toast. yes, and make it whole (engineered) wheat bread, with a margerine made from engineered corn......hold it, if this was eaten BY an engineer, would that make him/her a cannibal?
  • That is actually fantastic news, and should prove to be a huge benefit to the production of otherwise expensive proteins for use in medicine. Well done !!

    I particularly like this quote from the article :

    'The only real problem is collecting the eggs. Unlike standard chickens, these muthers have 8 legs, and shoot laser beams out of their eyes - which makes collecting the eggs a real bastard of a job'.
  • "Hens that lay eggs containing cancer-fighting proteins...

    Here, let me get things started with a couple of yolks:

    • Doctor, handing two eggs to a patient, "Take two of these and call me in the morning."
    • That's gonna be a tough pill to swallow.
    • Medicine is not all it's cracked up to be.
  • A few problems that will cause this idea to take several years to, er, hatch...

    Genetically engineered animals and plants have been used to make therapeutic proteins before (but not commercially yet, AFAIK). However, a good fraction of the cost in making such proteins is the purification, not the initial production. Animals, plants, eggs, milk all have to be purified before a therapeutic drug is usable and the costs there are more like phoenix feed. [Such drugs have to be injected, you can't eat the eg
    • However, a good fraction of the cost in making such proteins is the purification, not the initial production...In this age of avian influenza, we'd have to develop ways to test for avian viruses and a way to test for residual egg proteins in the purified drug

      First off let me just say that separation of proteins is a rather standard thing in biochemistry there are a myriad of ways to do it probably the easiest and most widely used, atleast in biochemistry labs, is HPLC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HPLC/ [wikipedia.org].

      • by ratsmell (1051278)
        Well, apparently I didn't make myself clear enough. I'll try using shorter words.
        Simple doesn't mean cheap.
        Hope that was clear. Purification costs are typically 2/3 of the COG for a biopharmaceutical. Oh crap, I used more jargon. Scientists in biochemistry labs., such as myself, may be brilliant and admirable, which apparently I'm not, but often they don't consider regulatory and industrial requirements when devising new protein production systems. Maybe they have indeed thought about it in this c
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kokyuho (151933)
      Ho Hum. Nice article but a bit anticlimactic. These guys are NOT the first to do this. Roslin institute is more than a year behind at least one other company. A good friend of mine, by the name of William MacArthur who is a brilliant Molecular Biologist, founded a company called Geneworks in Ann Arbor, Michigan several years ago with the goal of creating transgenic chickens that do exactly the same thing as the chickens described in the article. He succeeded and more than a year ago had pure-breeding, trans
  • Hmmm... genetically engineering chickens with human DNA.

    Am I just paranoid, or is this a good way of helping bird-flu jump the species barrier ?
  • ...ever heard of a Scotch Egg? Hardboiled, wrapped in sausage meat, breaded then fried?

    Cancer-fighting, yup.
  • Instead of engineering chickens to produce cancer-fighting eggs, which only solves one problem of cancer, why not genetically engineer chickens to lay rocks of crack? That way chickens are 1. providing an economic contribution to society, 2. crack dealers learn the valuable skills of animal husbandry, 3. society benefits from cheaper crack and 4. crack production is outsourced to rural areas producing more jobs.
    • No way.
      Rural drug dealers have already (re)discovered meth. Meth already "fixes" points 1, 3, and 4.
      If they engineered chickens that laid pseudoephedrine, maybe then the rural drug dealers would be interested. For that matter, Big Pharma might be interested.
  • Here's a great article on the pros and cons of "pharming" (deriving medicinal properties from animals):
    pharming article [utah.edu]

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