Using Chicken Eggs to Unyoke Rabbits in Research

In a presentation at the AALAS meeting, J. Hau from the University of Copenhagen described an interesting work in progress, the replacement of the rabbit with a free-range, free-will chicken as the traditional polyclonal antibody animal model. (Polyclonal antibodies are antibodies from multiple B cells, which are fundamental components of the body’s immune system. The antibodies are obtained from the serum of an immunized animal and used extensively in medical research.) In current experiments, the chickens are immunized via injection or gavage and the antibody is made in the yetto- be-laid egg. Once the egg is laid, the antibody is collected from the yolk. Ten times more antibody can be obtained from the yolk than from traditional rabbit serum. If the antigen can be administered orally (it is under development as a spaghetti-like food to mimic worms, which the chickens voluntarily consume), no restraint, injections or other stressful procedures would be needed to generate high quality polyclonal antibodies.

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