Why did the chicken cross the DNA?

Advances in transgenics and drug production are foreseen using chicken eggs, says the Roslin Institute. But why chickens?

David Nicholson(dn@davidnicholson.com)
Dec 5, 2000

EDINBURGH The Roslin Institute held a special news conference today, delighting scientists with the idea of producing drugs in chicken eggs but disappointing the media when 'Britney' the hen failed to make an appearance.

The Roslin Institute reached celebrity status when it gave birth to Dolly the sheep in 1997. Its latest project is in collaboration with Viragen, Inc., a US biotech company based in Plantation, Florida and Edinburgh. "The essence of this project is to create chickens which produce eggs containing new drugs to treat many serious diseases, including cancer," said Dr Helen Sang, lead scientist on avian transgenic technology at the Roslin Institute.

Dr Sang was the first person to produce a trangenic chicken by direct injection. First generation transgenics has had a low success rate, however, because the process is very difficult to control. DNA is directly injected into the germinal disk of a hen's egg,...