A chicken bioreactor for efficient production of functional cytokines

Lissa R Herron, Clare Pridans, Matthew L Turnbull, Nikki Smith, Simon Lillico, Adrian Sherman, Hazel J Gilhooley, Martin Wear, Dominic Kurian, Grigorios Papadakos, Paul Digard, David A Hume, Andrew C Gill, Helen M Sang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The global market for protein drugs has the highest compound annual growth rate of any pharmaceutical class but their availability, especially outside of the US market, is compromised by the high cost of manufacture and validation compared to traditional chemical drugs. Improvements in transgenic technologies allow valuable proteins to be produced by genetically-modified animals; several therapeutic proteins from such animal bioreactors are already on the market after successful clinical trials and regulatory approval. Chickens have lagged behind mammals in bioreactor development, despite a number of potential advantages, due to the historic difficulty in producing transgenic birds, but the production of therapeutic proteins in egg white of transgenic chickens would substantially lower costs across the entire production cycle compared to traditional cell culture-based production systems. This could lead to more affordable treatments and wider markets, including in developing countries and for animal health applications.

RESULTS: Here we report the efficient generation of new transgenic chicken lines to optimize protein production in eggs. As proof-of-concept, we describe the expression, purification and functional characterization of three pharmaceutical proteins, the human cytokine interferon α2a and two species-specific Fc fusions of the cytokine CSF1.

CONCLUSION: Our work optimizes and validates a transgenic chicken system for the cost-effective production of pure, high quality, biologically active protein for therapeutics and other applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82
JournalBMC Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2018


  • Transgenic animals
  • Biologics
  • Recombinant proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Animal biotechnology


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