Monday, April 27, 2009

Glowy Puppy

Scientists in South Korea have created the first batch of transgenic dogs; that is, dogs with modified genomes. They used a virus to inject fluorescent genes into the nuclei of beagles' fibroblast cells, then they transferred the nuclei of those cells to nucleus-free egg cells, which they fertilized. Later, the created embryos were placed into surrogate mothers. The resulting puppies now produce a fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light. This is an important step in animal research in that dogs make for more useful disease models than test animals with shorter lifespans, like mice. So transgenic dogs may be useful in studying reproductive diseases that affect humans. On the other hand, the process is slow and expensive. Plus, only a small percentage of the dogs produced actually survive long-term. Which, as a beagle owner, gives me the willies. More details here.

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