Biotech Updates

Scientists Create Gene-edited Allergen-free Chicken Eggs

May 24, 2023

Scientists from Hiroshima University produced OVM knocked out chickens (colored chickens) using genome editing tools. Photo Source: Ryo Ezaki, et al./Food and Chemical Toxicology

Researchers in Japan have created a gene-edited allergen-free chicken egg called the OVM-knockout that may be safe for people who are allergic to egg whites. The researchers used genome editing to produce the egg without the protein ovomucoid, which accounts for approximately 11% of all the protein in egg whites.

Chicken egg allergies are most common in children. Though most children outgrow this allergy by age 16, some of them carry the allergy into adulthood and some people with egg white allergies are unable to receive certain flu vaccines. To produce the OVM-knockout eggs, the research team first needed to detect and eliminate the ovomucoid protein in the egg whites. They engineered TALENs to target a piece of RNA called exon 1, which codes for specific proteins. The eggs produced from this technique were then tested to ensure there was no ovomucoid protein, mutant ovomucoid protein, or other off-target effects.

According to Ryo Ezaki, assistant professor at the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life at Hiroshima University in Hiroshima, Japan, the eggs laid by homozygous OVM-knockout hens showed no evident abnormalities, and the albumen contained neither the mature OVM nor the OVM-truncated variant. Ezaki added that the potential TALEN-induced off-target effects in OVM-knockout chickens were localized in the intergenic and intron regions. Also, the plasmid vectors from genome editing of the chickens were only momentarily present. These results show the importance of safety evaluations and reveal that the eggs laid by this OVM knockout chicken solve the allergy problem in food and vaccines.

For more details, read the article in the Hiroshima University website.

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