Genetically Modified Animals

Jocelyn McCormack

Breadcrumb Trail - Day 1

1. I clicked on a link titled "12 bizarre examples of a genetic engineering" to get some ideas about what genetic modification in animals is used for. There are animals that glow in the dark, pigs that can process phosphorus, goats that produce milk with the silk protein, cows that produce less methane, and hens that lay cancer-fighting medicine in eggs.

2. I decided I wanted to learn more about the hens. They were engineered to lay eggs with cancer-fighting proteins. Potentially these eggs could be a cheaper faster way of producing cancer treatment drugs. Mass producing typical cancer treatments through microbes is very expensive. The process has been somewhat successful in goats, but they are also expensive to maintain. Chickens are cheaper, can reproduce faster than goats, and lay eggs almost every day. They began testing by injecting the egg embyos with viruses. "Each sequences codes for one of two proteins: miR24, a cancer-fighting antibody, or a human interferon beta-1a, a protein with antiviral properties." Females secrete these proteins into their eggs, passing them to their offspring. The proteins are produced only where egg white are made, not throughout the body, so the chicken is not harmed.

3. One question that I have was do these anti-cancer eggs have the same side effects as typical cancer drugs? So I looked up the side effects of these eggs. Unfortunately, I didn't get much of an answer. Since, these eggs aren't used by patients yet, it is probably hard to determine wether or not they would have similar side effects.

Cancer-Fighting Chickens

Day 2

1. Continuing my question from yesterday, I discovered that the side effects would probably be the same. What I had not realized was that a cancer patient would not eat the egg as a treatment, but only the proteins from the eggs would be used to make drugs. The only thing that would be changing is the source of the protein.

2. For today's research, I wanted to find out more about the proteins that are injected into the eggs. How do they work to treat cancer? The chickens have human genes added to their DNA, which means that human proteins are produced in the eggs. The proteins easily separate from the eggs and can be used in drugs. The first protein is miR24, which are immune cells that can treat melanoma. The second protein is interferon b-1a. Interferons don't directly kill cancer cells, but they boost the immune system to reduce the growth of cancer cells.

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