While genetically modified animals are usually looked at as being a bad thing, the United States government has just approved a type of genetically modified chicken that will supposedly improve the health of individuals. These engineered chickens would make the drug Kanuma in their eggs, which is said to be a treatment for people with lysosomal acid lipase deficiency. The rare condition prevents people’s bodies from breaking down fatty molecules inside cells but Kanuma works to replace this faulty enzyme. The disease can be potentially fatal, especially when acquired by infants.
In order to collect the protein, researchers would have to purify the whites of the chickens’ egg. This means the chicken would have the protein throughout their entire body, making it unsafe to eat. Researchers have said, however, that because the chickens are raised indoors, it is highly unlikely that they would ever enter the food supply. The FDA is still looking into whether altering the chickens’ DNA would harm the animal and if the modification could be passed onto future generations.
This isn’t the first time a transgenic animal modified to produce a drug has been approved—six years ago, genetically modified goats that could produce a drug in their milk that would prevent blood clots were approved —and researchers hope it isn’t the last. So why did the chicken cross the road? Maybe the actual answer was always to make a potentially life-saving drug for countless Americans in their eggs????