Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have created antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in hen eggs. Egg-derived antibodies may be used to treat COVID-19 or as a prophylactic step for those who have been exposed to the illness. The article appeared in the journal Viruses on July 9th, 2022.
The beauty of the system is that you can produce a lot of antibodies in birds. In addition to a low cost to produce these antibodies in hens, they can be updated very fast by using updated antigens to hyperimmunize hens, allowing protection against current variant strains.”
Rodrigo Gallardo, Professor, Poultry Medicine, Population Health and Reproduction, UC Davis School Of Veterinary Medicine
IgY, a kind of antibody that is similar to IgG in humans and other mammals, is produced by birds. When administered to people, IgY does not produce allergy symptoms or trigger immunological responses. IgY can be found in the serum and eggs of birds. A person can consume a lot of IgY, according to Gallardo, as a hen produces roughly 300 eggs every year.
Using three distinct vaccines depending on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein or receptor binding domain, Gallardo and associates immunized chickens twice. Three and six weeks following the previous vaccine, the antibodies in hen blood samples and egg yolks were assessed.
The National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases at George Mason University in Virginia investigated purified antibodies to see if they could prevent coronavirus from attacking human cells.
Vaccinated hens’ eggs and sera both contained SARS-CoV-2-recognizing antibodies. Since there are more antibodies in blood generally, according to Gallardo, serum antibodies were more powerful at neutralizing the virus.
To create the egg-based antibody technology, Gallardo is collaborating with partners Daria Mochly-Rosen at Stanford University and Michael Wallach at the University of Technology, Sydney. The team wants to put these antibodies in a spray or other prophylactic medication that those who are at high risk of coronavirus contact might take.
Aston, E. J., et al. (2022) Hyperimmunized Chickens Produce Neutralizing Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Viruses. doi.org/10.3390/v14071510.