Scientists have cloned a colony of rabbits that glow bright green in the dark, in an attempt to advance research into treatments for life-threatening illnesses.
Researchers based in Hawaii and Turkey produced a litter of eight rabbits, two of which glow green in the dark.
Dr. Stefan Moisyadi, a biogenesis researcher, said the rabbits are like "an LED light", during an interview with Khon2. "And on top of it, their fur is beginning to grow and the greenness is shining right through their fur. It’s so intense,” he added.
The florescent colouring is used to indicate that the genetic material injected into the embryos is incorporated into the rabbits' natural make up.
'It’s just a marker to show that we can take a gene that was not originally in the animal and now exists in the animal,' Dr Moisyadi explained.
Dr Moisyadi said the animals are not affected by the fluorescent protein and will have the same life span as other rabbits. “The green is only a marker to show that’s it’s working easily,” he said.
To produce the glow, researchers injected a fluorescent protein taken from jellyfish DNA into eight rabbit embryos. The embryos were then reinserted into the mother rabbit, leaving two to be born with the glowing gene.
The research follows similar experiments by scientists, who have genetically modified other animals to create glow in the dark kittens, puppies and monkeys.
They now plan to eventually introduce beneficial genes into larger animals to create less costly and more efficient medicines.
"[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 with barrier reactives rather than a factory that will cost billions of dollars to build," Dr Moisyadi said.
The rabbits were born in Istanbul, Turkey and researchers are looking to eventually bring their work to the US. However, Dr Moisyadi said it could prove difficult.
"At home, there is this hysteria that transgenic animals should not be used for anything," Dr Moisyadi said.