The first living glowing rabbits have been born in Turkey, and one day researchers believe they could help bring affordable drug therapies to more developing countries.
The glow-in-the-dark bunnies are the product of a collaboration between the Univerwity of Hawaii at Manoa and two universities in Turkey.
Scientists used a gene from jellyfish DNA and inserted it into a rabbit’s embryo, reports CBS News. While the rabbits appear completely normal and white in everyday lighting, the same isn’t true under black light.
Instead, they glow bright green. While transgenic mice, cows, goats, chickens, and pigs have already been produced successfully, CBS News reports that this was the first instance of a successful transgenic rabbit.
The bunnies were conceived using in vitro fertilization (IVF) from embryos extracted from an adult female rabbit. They then inserted plasmids into the embryos in a process similar to that used in IVF human procedures.
The Los Angeles Times notes that Stefan Moisyadi, an associate professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa who worked on the glowing rabbits project, commented that the jellyfish protein won’t hurt the bunnies and it also won’t alter their lifespan. However, those rabbits will pass the glow-in-the-dark gene on to their offspring.
Eventually, the Turkish team, including Moisyadi, hopes to insert the jellyfish gene into larger mammals, such as sheep and cattle. The associate professor added that the scientists’ “main plan was to do sheep, but they only have one or two embryos max.” He added that the group currently has 10 pregnant sheep, about 25 percent of which they believe will end up glowing in the dark.
Eventually, Moisyadi hopes that the process will be used not to implant jellyfish genes, but instead to insert genes for proteins used in medications. This is because animals can make proteins in their milk that humans often use for medicine. Being able to extract useful proteins from the animals’ milk would make pharmaceuticals more affordable.
But for now, the scientists are focusing on glowing rabbits.
[Image via ShutterStock]