"While that earlier research was done with chimeric chickens, it demonstrated the enormous opportunities that transgenic chickens hold as a therapeutics production system," said Robert Kay, Ph.D. Origen Therapeutics president and chief executive officer. "We believe a transgenic chicken system offers a number of advantages over either plant or other transgenic animal systems for protein production. Besides the ability to produce antibodies with enhanced cell killing properties, the time from antibody identification to production in eggs is a matter of months, the purification of proteins from eggs is relatively simple, and good manufacturing practices have long been established for vaccine production in chicken eggs. Moreover, the overall cost of facility and operations is a fraction of that associated with fermentation methods of manufacture. The ability to readily create transgenic chickens through this technology, and then to scale up production through conventional breeding further adds to the practicality of this technology for large-scale production of therapeutic proteins."
In the early embryo, only a few cells known as primordial germ cells (PGCs) become sperm or eggs in the adult animal. Previous attempts to culture PGCs from mice and humans produced embryonic germ cells that look and act like embryonic stem cells. The chicken is the first species from which PGCs can be isolated, cultured and genetically modified while retaining their commitment to the germ line. Additionally, under certain conditions, Origen scientists could induce the PGCs in vitro to differentiate into embryonic germ cells that contribute to somatic tissue.
"As well as the practical applications of this work, the ability to engineer PGCs and influence them to commit in cell culture to either the germline or the somatic lineages provides a very useful new tool for understanding some of the earliest and most fu