With alternative treatments for cancer on the rise, we’re also seeing an increase in unusual remedies. If anything from avocado husks to flexible batteries are on the market, using livestock should be no surprise. At least not to engineers in Japan. Researchers are genetically modifying chickens to lay eggs filled with cancer-preventing drugs.
The eggs were developed using genome-editing technology to produce a protein called interferon, which is used to treat hepatitis, multiple sclerosis and malignant skin cancer.
Injecting it into cancer patients three times per week can prevent cancer cells from multiplying, while also boosting T cells to fight tumors.
Conventionally, interferon costs anywhere between $250 to $900. Interferon from chicken eggs, on the other hand, won’t have patients clucking up more than half the price. What remains to be more dangerous than cancer itself is the price tag that comes with therapy.
“Cancer drugs are not a luxury item, like an expensive car, that people can choose to buy or not to buy…. When prices come down, mortality rates will surely follow.” [said Brian Bolwell of the Cleveland Clinic.]
Perhaps, one day we’ll all agree that curing cancer isn’t about the money. Kudos, Mr. Bolwell. Kudos.
Recent discoveries of a 1-million-year-old Stegomastodon and ancient water bird fossil are taking a backseat, thanks to an even greater finding. As luck would have it, paleontologists have hit the jackpot in Xinjiang, China with 215 pterosaur eggs. Fortunately, there are no plans to open up a real-life Jurassic Park — yet.
“When you have a really unique find, you basically can’t do anything to it because that’s all you’ve got. But now that we have literally hundreds of eggs to work with, we have more options — such as cutting different eggs into cross-sections to study growth rates.” [said paleobiologist David Unwin.]
16 of the eggs contain embryonic remains, encompassed by dozens of highly-intact skeletons. Though this particular species of pterosaur boasted an 11-foot wingspan, it technically wasn’t a dinosaur. Scientists assume pterosaurs would’ve closer resembled a giant albatross — just significantly more frightening.
“I think these new embryonic finds are really exciting because with these, we can begin to reconstruct the embryonic development of pterosaurs inside the egg. I just think it’ll take time to do that.” [said Unwin.]
With potentially 300 more surrounding eggs undiscovered, the horizons for study are limitless. Let’s just hope nobody gets any crazy ideas.
Over the years, countries outside of Asia and Africa have opened up to stranger delicacies. A pub in Brussels is serving crickets in a variety of flavors. Jumping on the insect bandwagon is Entocycle, a startup attempting to turn fly larvae into a source of protein.
Not only can the larvae of black soldier flies be made into animal feed, but they also gobble down food waste during their short lives, doubling the environmental benefits of Entocycle’s automated system.
Okay, so we’re not going to be feasting on worm burgers anytime soon, but we can remain optimistic about our livestock and aquaculture. The larvae are also easy to raise.
The larvae of black soldier flies… will feast on organic waste from [a] large range of sources, including breweries and commercial kitchens. Because they are not picky [about] what they eat, black soldier flies are well-suited to being raised in an automated system.
Female black soldier flies can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time. Harvesters use 5% of eggs to repopulate new cycles. They hatch the other 95% and turn them into feed as quickly as within a week.
The process is simple and affordable, which makes it no surprise that Entocycle has raised $1 million in grant money. Insect protein may not yet be the norm, but holds promise for the near future.