By Laura Shin
Posting in Science
Scientists have genetically engineered three cats so they potentially have resistance to AIDS -- and so they glow in the dark.
There are two AIDS pandemics in the world: one in humans and the other in cats.
In their quest for ways to combat AIDS in humans, scientists have been studying feline immunodificiency virus (FIV) for insight into the human virus.
Afflicting mostly feral cats and big cats such as lions, FIV causes AIDS in cats the same way HIV causes AIDS in people -- by causing the loss of infection-fighting T cells.
Now, a group of researchers mostly from the Mayo Clinic report in the journal Nature Methods that they have genetically engineered three cats so they potentially have resistance to AIDS -- and so they glow in the dark.
Previous genetically engineered cats had to be cloned through delicate surgery. As New Scientist says,
The first cloned cat, born in 2001, was the only one to survive from 200 embryos, each created by taking an ear cell from cats, removing the nucleus and fusing it with a cat egg cell emptied of its own nucleus.
The new technique allows scientists to genetically modify the egg cells directly using viruses and is much simpler and more efficient than the previous method. Out of 22 implantations, three genetically modified cats were born.
Live Science reports,
The amount of genetic material they implanted within the cats was tiny — if the entire string of DNA that is the cat genome were unraveled and depicted as a highway reaching across the United States from New York to Los Angeles, the inserted material would be equal in length to one of the dashed yellow lines in the middle of the highway somewhere out in Nebraska, [Eric Poeschla, a molecular biologist and infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine] said.
The reason the cats now glow in the dark is because they were given the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene, which originates from jellyfish and has been used in a number of science experiments to make animals, including mice, fruit flies, rabbits and pigs, glow in the dark. Seeing the cats glow in the dark helps the researchers know that the genetic engineering was successful.
The cats were also given a monkey gene that protects rhesus monkeys from FIV. The team is hoping that this will protect them from FIV, and if so, that it could then lead to similar ways to protect humans from becoming infected with HIV.
So far, when white blood cells from the cats are cultured in the lab, those cells are protected from FIV. The scientists intend to give the virus to the cats to see whether they are also immune to it. Poeschla told New Scientist,
The animals clearly have the protective gene expressed in all their tissues including the lymph nodes, thymus and spleen. That's crucial because that's where the disease really happens, and where you see destruction of T-cells targeted by HIV in humans.
One male has already sired eight kittens with three non-genetically modified females, and each of the offspring had the implanted genes.
But the question remains whether this FIV research will ultimately prove helpful to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Theodora Hatziioannou of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center told New Scientist, "It's fantastic they've created GM cats. But what makes research in monkeys so much better is that SIV in monkeys is much more closely related to HIV, so it's more straightforward to draw conclusions than it would be with FIV."
photos: Mayo Clinic
Sep 11, 2011
I've be a well studied christian for decades, I love this research and I love the Lord, both make good sense if you do your research
"exhibits bright green fluorescence when exposed to light in the blue to ultraviolet range". To those concerned that a modified can can't hunt, they only glow when illuminated by UV or deep blue. OK, of course we all know that mice carry little ultraviolet flashlights, so they can see the cat coming. The GM cats, the are likely to live indoors, never needing to hunt. And as likely as the article says to be given the FIV disease, and that will kill them in a few years. I like cats and I don't like experiments being done on them. But it is because FIV and HIV are both pandemic, and we "can't experiment on people". So the poor cat, who does not deserve an AIDS for its kind any more than the human beings do, is called upon. As far as a test of whether the gene work was properly done, a harmless and non-invasively checked 'coloration' marker is better than some genetically induced physical mutation or disability for these indoor lab cats.
Every new life consists of modified DNA. Every time a person gets a virus, their DNA is modified. Every human has about 100 random changes in their DNA. Every infection potentially modifies DNA. Every human consists of more bacteria, than human. Human DNA/RNA contains many pieces of non-human species. People fear what they don't understand. Fear short-circuits rational thought. Can such genetic modifications be dangerous? As with any tool, it depends upon how they are used. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are genetically modified....by ignorant use of antibiotics. The major difference between the above modification and human-directed modification is that the above happen at random while directed modifications are carefully thought out in advance, with efforts made to prevent 'bad' variations from entering the general environment. As to 'playing God,' Last time I looked, God is omnipresent (everywhere) that would include within the scientists.
My concern is in making hybrid cats immune to AIDS, the hybrid cats can be used as biological weapons by the US government. In this research, I do not see the researchers developing any vaccines to prevent AIDS or cure patients with AIDS. I certainly do not see the researches planning to develop hybrid humans that are immune to either AIDS or a future military biological weapon.
We humans have been "playing God" since before Jesus walked the earth. How do you think we got domestic cats in the first place? They were created by humans from breeding wild cats, and go back at least as far as ancient Egypt. Dogs, horses, and all farm animals have a similar history. Genetic manipulation today is being done at the cellular level in labs. But when you look at selective breeding, it all boils down to the same thing: manipulating the genes of the animal. A cat that glows in the dark may seem ungodly, but so is a dachshund or a hairless cat.
The eery Pink Floyd song that seems to have murderous connotations actually is about "what could possibly go wrong" with genetic modifications.
How dare you be so cavalier as to just blindly accept that this is fine to screw with God's creatures to produce Frankenstein animals. OK, so I am totally fine with scientists making glow in the dark babies! I'm sure they know how to do it. I want one! I think they'd be cute! I wouldn't need a night light! We could make a lot of money with them! Bloody imbeciles!
It is unlikely that feral versions of these could spread too widely in the population because they would be at a disadvantage vs their non-glowing competitors. The prey species would see them coming.... but selling kittens like the one in the photo could be a big money maker for the clinic and could help fund further research. Aids, schmaids, I wanna glow in the dark kitty! :)
How can you people blandly report on such alarming incidents as this? You could be reporting on the latest flavor of coffee at Starbucks. Genetically modified ANYTHING is asking for trouble and now let's f**k with felines! I've heard but don't know for sure that AIDs is actually man made and now let's screw with nature again to find the cure! Seems that this is the same story being replayed over and over just the venues change. Create the problem, then take control so 'they' can remedy the situation. This is anything but good news!
Cats can hunt during the day as well as night. If an animal isn't paying attention, it doesn't matter if the predator is glow in the dark or not. They will become dinner.
There are easier ways to weaponize aids than to make hybrid cats. A good weaponized virus would be one that rapidly incapacitates a group; it does not have to be lethal but it has to be rapid and easily spread. By inserting genes to make the cats immune to aids is one of many paths to dealing with AIDS and that helps with human AIDS treatment. Being immune is not the same as being a carrier.
Seeing the cats glow in the dark helps the researchers know that the genetic engineering was successful! Like a TAG wouldn't work? and this idiot below 'where can I get one of those cuties?' this is the problem with this species called Man - we want everything - we want to cure sexually transmitted diseases through the perversion of one of Gods creatures - the author introduced this argument by her heading - Scientists Playing God. Why not teach people to love and respect themselves - actually love their neighbour by performing concrete action and perhaps everybody won't need to have so much sex we are creating illnesses that are PREVENTABLE!!!!!!! But not to this cat - no, but I think God would have a more tender heart than to create a nocturnal hunting animal that can be seen for miles! Good going goofs!
It would be easier to see them at night though. Of everything they said here, the glow-in-the-dark part is what I find most useful. It would suck to be the cat though. The built in lights would make it very hard for them to hunt anything at night.
It is scientists performing experiments to understand diseases of the immune system. The glowing cats are to help find a cure for feline immune problems that are causing a lot of the big cats to die off, which you might have read in the article if you weren't in a rush.