Australian research aims to produce ‘allergy-free’ eggs

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th March 2012

Research being undertaken at Deakin University, in Victoria, in collaboration with CSIRO and the Poultry Co-operative Research Centre, aims to produce ‘allergy-free’ eggs for use in food consumption and the production of common vaccines such as flu vaccines.

The collaborative research being undertaken by Deakin PhD candidate, Pathum Dhanapala, will involve switching off the allergenic part of the protein in the chicken egg white and then reintroducing the protein to the egg in a non-allergenic form.

Of the 40 proteins in egg white, there are four major allergens and this research will systematically switch off the allergens in all four, creating a hypoallergenic egg that can produce chickens, which lay allergy-free eggs.

Associate Professor Cenk Suphioglu from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences said that it was the proteins in the egg that were being modified – not the genes or DNA of the chickens.

“This is a completely novel approach in that previous egg-allergy research has cloned the egg-white-allergen genes but no-one has gone as far as to make the proteins non-allergenic,” Professor  Suphioglu said.

“There is evidence that new parents are exposing their infants to egg products for the first time in the car parks of major children’s hospitals just so they are close to medical attention in case their child reacts adversely,” he added.

With eggs commonly being used in vaccine production, the research also has significant positive implications for medical application. People who are allergic to egg whites, for instance, are currently prevented from having a standard flu vaccine.

The research is expected to take three years to complete with the possibility that allergy-free vaccines could be available within five years and allergy-free eggs could be available in supermarkets for human consumption within five or 10 years.