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Transgenic production for the birds


US company AviGenics has successfully produced biologically active human interferon and human monoclonal antibodies in transgenic chickens.

The news, reported at an IBC conference called 'Scaling-Up from Bench to Clinic and Beyond: Advances in Bioprocessing Strategies for Successful Commercialisation', held in Durham, North Carolina, in the US, indicates that there is still some mileage in transgenic production techniques, despite the problems faced by PPL, one of the pioneers of the technique.

Dr Leandro Christmann, AviGenics ' director of transgenic technology, presented characterisation data for two therapeutic proteins expressed in transgenic chicken eggs. The first protein, human interferon alpha-2b, was made via a flock of transgenic chickens that has shown consistent production over three generations. Furthermore, the protein sequence and glycosylation pattern of the transgenic interferon seem to be equivalent to those of the natural interferon present in the human body.

Christmann also described studies of the production of human monoclonal antibodies in transgenic eggs, in which the biological properties of the resulting antibodies were identical to those of the same antibody derived from traditional mammalian cell culture.

"This is a significant accomplishment because the human antibody molecule is a very complex protein consisting of four separate protein chains linked together," he noted.

Avigenics' chief executive, Yashwant Deo, told the conference that the technology has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of therapeutic protein production, and is suitable for "several hundred proteins drugs currently in development."

Another group involved in the development of transgenic production of proteins in chicken eggs is a collaboration between the Roslin Institute in the UK, US firm Viragen and the UK's Oxford BioMedica.

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