Using the new technology, Origen can, in principle, make any genetic modification desired to the chicken genome, including the insertion of genetic elements for the production of human therapeutics and the modification of the chicken immune system to produce novel human sequence polyclonal antibodies. Moreover, the new technology opens up the possibility of producing chickens with enhanced agronomic traits, including resistance to avian flu.
"This research breakthrough came when we turned our attention to primordial germ cells, the precursor cells to sperm and eggs," said Marie-Cecile van de Lavoir, senior scientist at Origen. "These cells ?which we are the first to successfully culture without changing their commitment -- proved to be the key to introducing genetic elements into the chicken genome. As a result, we can now take transgene designs that work well in model systems and breed flocks of birds depositing therapeutic proteins in their eggs. The use of primordial germ cells, the ease of producing small or large flocks of chickens, and the existing infrastructure for rearing chickens and processing eggs means that therapeutic proteins can now be produced efficiently and economically in the eggs of chickens."
Origen scientists first demonstrated the potential for the production of human protein therapeutics in chicken eggs in August 2005, when company scientists published in Nature Biotechnology the production of human sequence monoclonal antibodies having greatly enhanced cancer killing activity co