Eggs from Transgenic Hens Express Interferon Beta-1a Protein

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Eggs from Transgenic Hens Express Interferon Beta-1a Protein

Researchers at Oxford BioMedica (Oxford, UK,, Viragen Ltd. (Plantation, FL,, and Roslin Institute (Edinburgh, Scotland, have expressed interferon beta-1a in the whites of eggs laid by transgenic hens. Interferon-beta is a key component of the human immune system and is the active ingredient in several multiple sclerosis therapies.

The project is a based on Viragen’s “OVA” avian transgenic biomanufacturing system and Oxford BioMedica’s “LentiVector” gene delivery system. According to the companies, avian transgenic technology aims to develop flocks of specially produced transgenic hens that have been engineered to lay “virtually unlimited” numbers of eggs expressing high volumes of target protein in the egg whites. Researchers hope the technology will serve as an efficient and economical alternative to standard biomanufacturing techniques.

These results are the first in a series of anticipated proof-of-principle milestones with an avian-expressed version of interferon beta.


In a company press statement, Karen Jervis, Viragen’s vice-president and managing director, said, “We will continue to collect eggs from these hens and subsequent generations to confirm quality and quantity of the protein. In addition, we will be analyzing the carbohydrate profile of the product, which may represent another key advantage to OVA-expressed proteins. Certain biotech drugs require post-translational modifications in order that the drug retains its full efficacy and is well tolerated when used as a human therapeutic. Although we must confirm the nature of the modifications conferred by the OVA system, we are hopeful that avian transgenic production may be able to retain these beneficial modifications, which may in turn translate to a lower cost of goods and a more economical process.”