Scientists working at creating allergy-free eggs
Of all the childhood allergies, an allergic reaction to eggs is one of the most common. Typically, reactions can include wheezing, nausea, headache, stomach ache, and hives. In extreme cases, however, anaphylactic shock can result, which can itself sometimes lead to death. Eggs are difficult to avoid, too - they find their way into many foods that might not seem particularly "eggy," and are even used in flu vaccines. Needless to say, for some time now, scientists have been working on making eggs safe for everyone. A team from Australia's Deakin University is now claiming that they're well on the way to producing not just hypoallergenic eggs, but the chickens that lay them.
The vast majority of egg allergy-sufferers are sensitive to four of the 40 proteins contained within egg whites. The Deakin team is working on extracting those four proteins, "switching off" the allergenic parts of them, then reintroducing the now-non-allergenic proteins back into the egg. The chicken subsequently born from that egg should in turn lay hypoallergenic eggs.
"We are not producing genetically modified chickens as part of this research, we are simply modifying the proteins within the egg whites to produce chickens which lay allergy-free eggs," explained the project leader, Adjunct Professor Tim Doran.
It is hoped that the three-year project will pay off in an allergy-free flu vaccine within five years, and consumable hypoallergenic eggs within five to ten years.
Previous projects, such as one conducted by German and Swiss chemists in 2008, have looked at ways in which regular eggs could be treated in order to make them safe for consumption by allergy-sufferers. Others have cloned the allergen genes, but this project is reportedly the first one that is attempting to render the proteins harmless.
Source: Deakin University
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Food Allergies are on the Rise
The prevalence of food allergies and associated anaphylaxis appears to be on the rise.
According to a study released in 2008 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about an 18% increase in food allergy was seen between 1997 and 2007...
(These stats apply to food allergies across the board. The following is 2008 U.S. stat for eggs:)
Milk and egg: based on data within and obtained outside the United States, this rate is likely to be 1-2% for young children and 0.2-0.4% in the general population.
Considering that there has also been an increase in the amount of antibiotics, GMO feed, and confined animal feed ops in that same time frame, how do those of you with egg allergies react to organic, free range eggs as opposed to your corporate farmed supermarket eggs?
We have ex-layers that we've recued and they rarely live past a year or so out of the farm as they develop reproductive tract tumours and die, even the best avian vets tell us that they are unsavable. This is not normal for a healthy bird, yet most ex-farm chickens suffer this fate.
I really wish scientists would stop getting caught up on the wow factor of 'we can do that' and ask whether 'should we do that?'...
The sad thing is, most people look at chickens as just a dumb bird, but they are actually remarkably smart, and they all have different behaviours and personalities (no, I'm not anthropomorphising, anyone who has cared for chickens, as opposed to farming them, which is not caring for them at all, will know just how different they are). Humans treat them shockingly and it's scientists like this, doing this sort of work, that make it even worse...
As for scientist's claim: "We are not producing genetically modified chickens as part of this research, we are simply modifying the proteins within the egg whites..." by "working on extracting those four proteins, "switching off" the allergenic parts of them, then reintroducing the now-non-allergenic proteins back into the egg. " It sounds like Gen Modds to me. Course it depends on what you mean by ".....