Biotech companies make antibody treatments from mice, rabbits, and even camels. So, why not ostriches?
That’s the founding question behind OstriGen, a startup formed last year based on the work of Dr. Yasuhiro Tsukamoto of Kyoto Prefectural University. The idea is fairly simple: Tsukamoto’s lab injects antigens into ostrich hens, who soon develop immunity. When they lay eggs, the yolks are laden with antibodies, which OstriGen then harvests and purifies.
The company is in the earliest stages of development, working with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on what could be an oral therapy for Clostridium difficile infection — derived, of course, from ostrich eggs. Step one is testing the therapy against C. diff in a Petri dish. If that works out, OstriGen will move onto animal studies, and, the company hopes, human clinical trials.