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Anti-Cancer Chicken Eggs

Anti-cancer chicken eggs produced

The egg whites contain the anti-cancer protein

UK scientists have developed a breed of genetically-modified chickens capable of laying eggs containing proteins needed to make cancer-fighting drugs.

The breakthrough has been announced by the same team that created the cloned Dolly the Sheep.

The Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh, says it has created five generations of birds that can produce high levels of potentially life-saving proteins.

It means a range of drugs in greater volume could be produced much cheaper.

Professor Harry Griffin, director of the institute, said: "One of the characteristics of lots of medical treatments these days is that they're very expensive.

"The idea of producing the proteins involved in treatments of flocks of laying hens means they can produce in bulk, they can produce cheaply and indeed the raw material for this production system is quite literally chicken feed."

BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh told BBC News 24 that the scientists, who have bred 500 birds, had been working on the project for seven years.

'10-year wait'

But it could be another five years before patient trials get the go-ahead and 10 years until a medicine is fully developed, he said.

Although proteins have been developed in the egg whites, researchers do not yet know whether the resulting drugs would work in practice.

In June 2005 the scientists announced that designer chickens whose eggs contain large amounts of cancer-fighting proteins could become a commercial reality.

At the time, researchers at Roslin - where Dolly the Sheep - the first mammal cloned from an adult cell was created - said they had produced a version of an antibody designed to treat malignant skin cancer.

Egg production of three other protein drugs had also been studied.

Source: BBC

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