Show Details

Cytokine Research

September 21, 2018

A breakthrough in medical research arises out of an unexpected finding in chicken eggs.


Eggs and immunity. (monicor/Pixabay)

Eggs and immunity. (monicor/Pixabay)


Egg research hatches unexpected benefits.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In the early 1970s, microbiologist Stanley Cohen was studying chicken eggs when he noticed something really weird: bacteria-fighting immune compounds, even though there were no immune cells to produce them. Cohen found that they, and a whole family of similar molecules, were produced by many kinds of cells- not just in chickens, but in people, too. He named them cytokines, and they turned out to be critical to many cell functions.


The cytokines are basically the vocabulary that cells use as part of their language in talking to each other. And allows it to interact with other cells.


Today, cytokine research has led to new treatments for cancer, heart disease,  Alzheimer’s disease and many other illnesses. Last week, Cohen received a Golden Goose Award, for silly-sounding research that yields enormous benefits. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon