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ILAR J. 2005;46(3):294-9.

Refinement of polyclonal antibody production by combining oral immunization of chickens with harvest of antibodies from the egg yolk.

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Comparative Medicine, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Copenhagen and State Hospital, The Panum Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Polyclonal antibody production in mammals is generally associated with multiple injections of antigens and adjuvants and repeated blood sampling procedures. During the past 20 yr, the use of chickens instead of mammals for this purpose has increased. A major advantage of using birds is that the antibodies can be harvested from the egg yolk instead of serum, thus making blood sampling obsolete. In addition, the antibody productivity of an egg-laying hen is much greater than that of a similar sized mammal. This article focuses on the developments in oral immunization strategies for chickens that combined with the antibodies from the egg yolk, have great potential for active implementation of the three Rs (replacing, reducing, and refining the use of laboratory animals to the extent possible) in polyclonal antibody production schemes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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