- LONDON (Reuters) - The Scottish
scientists who created Dolly, the world's first cloned mammal, announced
a deal with U.S. biotech company Viragen Inc (NYSE:VRA - news) to breed
chicken that produce life-saving drugs in their eggs.
- Dr. Helen Sang, of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute said
the deal will combine the nuclear transfer technology used to make Dolly
with Viragen's expertise in developing anti-cancer proteins.
- ``The essence of this project is to create chickens which
produce eggs containing new drugs to treat many serious diseases, including
cancer,'' Sang said Wednesday in a statement.
- Roslin scientists are already developing cows, sheep,
goats and rabbits to provide proteins for drugs in their milk but birds
provide a cheaper, faster and virtually unlimited production process through
- ``This collaborative effort is being undertaken to enable
the production of a wide variety of drugs in greater volume and at a fraction
of the cost when compared to conventional manufacturing methods,'' explained
Gerald Smith of Florida-based Viragen.
- No Sign Of Britney The Chicken
- News of the deal that was announced at Edinburgh Castle
was leaked in British newspapers during the weekend, along with news that
Britney, reportedly one of a flock of genetically modified birds, would
make an appearance.
- But it seems to have been a case of counting eggs before
they are hatched.
- ``There is no Britney,'' a Roslin spokeswoman told Reuters.
- ``The announcement is about work to be done in the future.
It is not done yet,'' she added.
- Dolly the sheep was produced by taking the nucleus out
of a cell from the mammary gland of an adult animal and fusing it, using
an electrical current, into another sheep egg cell from which the nucleus
had been removed.
- The same technology will allow scientists, for the first
time, to precisely control where and how genes are inserted into hens.
- ``The collaboration with Viragen is a key part of our
strategy to expand the institute's development of medical applications
of Dolly technology,'' said Professor Grahame Bulfield, the director of
the Roslin Institute.
- TranXenoGen Inc (TXN.L), a British company that specializes
in the production of human therapeutic proteins in chicken eggs is working
on a similar project.
- It is estimated that the genetically modified chickens
will lay about 250 eggs, containing proteins for drugs, a year.
- Viragen is collaborating with Britain's Cancer Research
Campaign to develop a vaccine for the treatment of breast, ovarian and
- It is also working with the Memorial Sloan Kettering
Cancer Center in New York on a treatment for skin cancer.
- Viragen's lead product, a treatment for hepatitis C called
Omniferon, is being tested in clinical trials in Europe.
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