Engineered eggs fight cancer

Eggs are good for what ails you, especially now that scientists at the University of Edinburgh have inserted a human gene into chickens’ DNA. The addition makes hens lay eggs that are chock full of two proteins that combat cancer.

Research has shown that these two proteins in particular can be effective against malignancy: IFNalpha2a, which is anti-viral, and another called macrophage-CSF, which sparks damaged tissues to repair themselves.

Three eggs from the altered chickens can produce one dose of the proteins for a human patient. One hen can drop up to 100 eggs a year, churning out the medicinal proteins as much as 100 times cheaper than making them from chemicals in a factory.

Also, new synthetic drugs can take years to earn approval from regulators for routine use in humans. The Edinburgh group is hoping that making the proteins by chicken will slash years off that time.


Several illnesses can be treated by supplying the body with missing proteins and researchers have shown that genetically tweaking goats and rabbits can produce these therapeutic proteins in their milk. So-called “nutriceuticals” will play a larger part in therapies in the next decade as people become more aware of the dangerous side effects of synthetic drugs.

Skip to content