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Glow-in-the-dark rabbits in the interest of science (seriously!)

Thu, 08/15/2013 - 11:59am
Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor

Now there’s a headline I never thought I’d read....

Scientists from universities in Turkey and Hawaii managed to breed rabbits — two out of a litter of eight — that glow in the dark. They assure us it’s all in the interest of science (as if glow-in-the-dark rabbits wasn’t a noble feat in and of itself). And the team hasn’t been experimenting with radioactive spiders (darn!).

The solution was far more elegant (and less likely to produce superheroes ... or tumors).

To produce these adorable little glow-in-the-dark critters, the team injected jellyfish DNA into the mother rabbit’s embryos and then reinserted the altered embryos back into the mother. The idea, according to The Guardian, is to prove the viability of a specific genetic manipulation technique which could then be used to help develop more advanced medications.

Believe it or not, but this isn’t the first time scientists have created glow-in-the-dark animals, as these luminescent cockroaches and cats would attest.

University of Hawaii associate professor Stefan Moisyadi, who has been working on this project since 2006, described the end state:

"The final goal is to develop animals that act as barrier reactives to produce beneficial molecules in their milk that can be cheaply extracted, especially in countries that can not afford big pharma plants that make drugs, that usually cost $1bn to build, and be able to produce their own protein-based medication in animals."

Of course, you’d be forgiven for worrying about the rabbits’ welfare — most living creatures don’t glow in the dark naturally (and radioactivity is more likely to give you cancer than super powers). But the project doesn’t involve nuclear energy, and Moisyadi assures us that the rabbits will live normal, healthy lives.

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