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I'll have my antibodies over easy.

The goose may have laid the golden egg, but it's white leghorn hens whose yolks yield potentially useful therapeutic and diagnostic antibodies in large quantities. "We can literally make tons of antibodies for everything," says Mark E. Cook, a poultry scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He calculates that one immunized hen's 260 eggs a year could yield about 39 grams of antibody -- enough in some cases to meet the lifetime needs of a diagnostic test.

Wisconsin mycologist Harold H. Burdsall Jr. uses one egg-yolk antibody in a quick immunoassay to distinguish species of a root-rot fungus that devastates trees and shrubs. And Ophidian Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Madison biotechnology company, uses egg antibodies instead of horse serum to make antivenom for snake bites. An upcoming report in the August TOXICON will describe this antivenom's effectiveness against rattlesnake bites, says Ophidian immunochemist Douglas Stafford. Also, since the antibodies do their job even after the egg is cooked, says Cook, medicine may someday come with toast and bacon.
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Title Annotation:using egg yolk
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 18, 1992
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