Forget golden eggs, the ones these hens lay are worth more than their weight in gold.

With advances in medical treatments, specialized substances are needed to combat complex illnesses like hepatitis, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately, producing these substances can be a costly process, raising the price of treatment considerably.

For example, 44 micrograms of the protein interferon beta costs US$4,000 to $7,000. However, recent experiments by the Kansai Center of Industrial Technology Research Institute in Osaka have successfully developed a method to reduce that price to less than $40.

And the secret weapon to achieve all this: chickens!

By recombining chicken DNA, the research team was able to breed chickens that laid eggs containing the precious proteins needed for medical research and development. In this case the chickens are laying interferon beta, which in addition to having use in medical treatments, is also a reagent that can trigger chemical reactions for research.

Since production of the protein this way simply involves raising chickens, the cost is drastically reduced to literal chicken feed. However, reaction to this breakthrough was mixed, with some fearing that a line may have been crossed.

“I feel like they are stepping into a taboo area.”
“Wow chickens that lay golden eggs!”
“Stop messing with genetics, all that will be born in failure.”
“Can someone do that to me to make my poop more valuable?”
“If I was born later, they would be able to give me superpowers.”
“They should have used geese.”
“This is amazing.”

Despite some people’s misgivings, the plan to produce proteins from poultry is plowing forward, scheduled to hit the market next year. However, initially it will only be sold as a reagent for research at about half of current market price. It will take more time for it to be okay to use in actual medicine at about 10 percent of current prices.

Genetic manipulation is always a controversial topic, but the net benefit in the form of more accessible medical research and more affordable treatments for all life on Earth is an opportunity that would be very hard to let slip away.

Source: Yomiuri Online, 5-Channel, New Technology Presentation Meetings!
Top image: Wikipedia/Ren West, Wikipedia (edited by SoraNews24)
Insert image: Flick/Dan Phiffer