A group of Japanese scientists are hoping to help drive down the cost of an expensive cancer drug by growing an active ingredient in chicken eggs.
According to a report in Newsweek, the researchers have edited the genomes of hens so that they will lay eggs containing interferon, a protein that helps stop cancer cells from growing and multiplying.
Using current production methods, a few micrograms of interferon costs $250 and $900 to make. The high price tag can make it cost prohibitive for patients, who often need to inject it three times a week. By instead using genome-editing technology to grow the drug in chickens, who lay an egg every day or two, the researchers hope they can sell interferon at about half of what it costs now, and eventually lower it to less than 10 percent of the current price.
“This is a result that we hope leads to the development of cheap drugs,” professor Hironobu Hojo of Osaka University, where the research was conducted, told The Japan News. “In the future, it will be necessary to closely examine the characteristics of the agents contained in the eggs and determine their safety as pharmaceutical products.”
Japan News reports that a joint research company hopes to begin selling the interferon, which is also used to treat hepatitis and multiple sclerosis, as early as next year.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery