Which Came First? Egg or Insulin

Linda Benedict  |  10/30/2004 2:22:39 AM

The LSU AgCenter has licensed technology to a start-up biotechnology company to produce a precursor for the drug insulin in chicken eggs. This technology was developed by Richard Cooper, a professor in the Department of Veterinary Science.

The company is TransGenRx and is in the process of moving into office and laboratory space on the Baton Rouge campus and at the Ben Hur Research Farm, where the chickens will be housed.

The technology involves a patented process of moving genes into a chicken so that a specific protein, in this case proinsulin, can be produced in the egg white. The proinsulin will then be used by drug manufacturers to produce insulin at a fraction of the current cost. Not only do the chickens produce a specific protein in their eggs, but they pass on the traits to subsequent generations.

TransGenRx expects to hire hundreds of employees in high-paying jobs, which will be a boost to the Baton Rouge economy.

Proinsulin is just the beginning. It may be possible to create other expensive protein products more inexpensively in egg whites. Chickens work “cheep.”

Linda Foster Benedict

(This article appeared in the fall 2003 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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