IRAUy, connected to the Genetically Modified Animals Unit of the Pasteur Institute, has raised a flock of nine “brilliant lambs” that they have
engineered to glow green under ultra-violet light. While most animal engineering is occupied with modifying organisms to produce compounds useful to
humans through their milk, such as growth hormone or insulin, the project was intended to solely refine methods of manipulation.
“We did not use a protein of medical interest or to help with a particular medicine because we wanted to fine-tune the technique. We used the green
protein because the color is easily identifiable in the sheep’s tissues,” Alejo Menchaca, the head of the research team told the South Atlantic
News Agency. “Our focus is generating knowledge, make it public so the scientific community can be informed and help in the long run march to
generate tools so humans can live better, but we’re not out in the market to sell technology.”
The project raises a myriad of ethical questions, ranging from whether or not jellyfish genetics belong in a grazing mammal, to what the long-term
implications of altering an established genome will affect the well-being of both animals and humans. The team at IRAUy insists that the sheep behave
normally and are closely monitored. Yet, despite appearing to function without incident, the full consequences of furthering such research has yet to
be seen. The scientists hope to trigger the interest of the pharmaceutical industry, opening up a new avenue of debate as to the safety and moral
ramifications of engineering animals to produce substances intended for human health.
First there were glow-in-the-dark fish, then rats, rabbits, insects, even pigs. And, now, researchers have inserted the jellyfish genes that make
fluorescent proteins into Felis catus, or the common household cat.
The goal was just to make sure that the researchers could successfully insert novel genes into the cats. Past efforts at cloning and injecting DNA
into fertilized cat embryos, among other genetic modification techniques, had failed. But the good doctors at the Mayo Clinic and Yamaguchi University
in Japan succeeded by injecting a lentivirus bearing the novel genetics directly into unfertilized cat eggs. (Human immunodeficiency viruses 1 and 2
(HIV-1 and HIV-2), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) are all lentiviruses, named for their slow incubation
Im not quite sure where I stand on this. Are they just doing this because they can or is there another reason?
Why do we need glow in the dark animals? And what are the implications for giving animals jelly fish DNA?
This just seems pointless. Either that or someone was just very bored in the lab one day