Fluorescent Felines: Glow-in-the-dark Cats Aid in Medical Research
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota have created three cats with a gene that makes their cells glow green when exposed to UV light. The researchers are hopeful that the fluorescent felines will speed development of strategies to prevent HIV/AIDS in humans as well as a similar disease that strikes cats. To create these glowing kitties, the scientists inserted a gene that protects cells against infection with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) into cat egg cells.
Why is it necessary that the cats emit a greenish glow to make this test effective you ask? To track the progress of the gene evidently. To make the frankenkitties glow, the researches inserted a jellyfish gene that makes the cells glow green, and the green glow helps the researchers keep track of the activity of the gene.
The ultimate goal of this test is to create cats with intrinsic immunity to the feline AIDS virus. The research could lead to the development of cats that have "built-in" protection against FIV and possibly other illnesses, which could reduce the expense and inconvenience of having to take cats to the vet for immunizations. Read more about the study and experiment at Nature Methods.
This isn’t the first time scientists have created a fluorescent animal. Glow-in-the-dark fruit flies, mice, rabbits, and pigs have already been created.