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Glow-in-the-Dark Piglets and Rabbits Produced with University of Hawaii Technique [VIDEO]

Dec 27, 2013 12:15 PM EST
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Glow in the dark piglets
Ten piglets born this year in a laboratory in China look like normal piglets when the lights are on, but in the dark, they glow florescent green thanks to a genetic alteration that incorporates a protein transferred from jellyfish DNA.
(Photo : via University of Hawai`i Insitute for Biogenesis Research at the John A. Burns School of Medicine)

Ten piglets born this year in a laboratory in China look like normal piglets when the lights are on, but in the dark, they glow florescent green thanks to a genetic alteration that incorporates a protein transferred from jellyfish DNA.

The uncanny glowing piglets are the latest in a series of animals-turned-florescent with an active transgenesis technique developed at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.

Earlier this year a kit of rabbits were given the same glowing treatment with the University of Hawai'i method. When applied to the piglets, the success rate which the fluorescent proteins from jellyfish DNA were transferred into the embryo of the pig was quadrupled, the university said in a statement.

Researchers say the piglets are no different from their unaltered kin and that the green glow is just an easy way for the researchers to know that the DNA transgenesis is working.

"It's just a marker to show that we can take a gene that was not originally present in the animal and now exists in it," said Stefan Moisyadi, bioscientist with the University of Hawai'i medical school's Institute for Biogenesis Research. "The green is only a marker to show that it's working easily."

Moisyadi had a hand in the glowing rabbit experiment earlier this year. At the time he told local news station KHON2 that he hoped to replicate the DNA transgeneisis in larger animals.

"Sheep, cows, and even pigs," Moisyadi told KHON2 in August. "The benefits in doing it in large animals is to create bio-reactors that basically produce pharmaceuticals that can be made a lot cheaper."

The bioscientist gave the example of hemophilia patients who could benefit from drugs synthesized from genetically altered animals.

"[For] patients who suffer from hemophilia and they need the blood-clotting enzymes in their blood, we can make those enzymes a lot cheaper in animals rather than a factory that will cost millions of dollars to build," Moisyadi said in a Univestify of Hawai'i news release this week.

Glowing animals have been developed in laboratories since the 1980s, and these glowing piglets are just the latest advancement of the technique. In April of this year scientists in Uruguay created a flock of glow-in-the-dark sheep.

Other experiments done around the world have produced glowing monkeys, puppies and kittens.

Moisyad's team in Turkey that produced the glowing rabbits is expected to announce the results of similar research involving sheep in early 2014.

Green Pigs demonstrate success of UH reproductive science technique from UHMed on Vimeo.

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