Maggie Koerth-Baker is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. A freelance science and health journalist, Maggie lives in Minneapolis, brain dumps on Twitter, and writes quite often for mental_floss magazine.
Researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea have successfully made transgenic puppies, according to New Scientist. The baby beagles carry a gene normally found in sea anemones, which means....yes....these fuzzy-wuzzy little puppykins glow in the dark. Thank you, science.
What, you may ask, is the point of a glow-in-the-dark dog? Er, well, this seems to be the point where everybody starts shuffling their feet and staring awkwardly up at the ceiling. One member of the research team says the experiment is basically just a proof-of-concept. What they really want to do is make transgenic dogs that could serve as research models for human disease. But while the other scientists interviewed in the article seem to agree that glowing puppies are a pretty damn awesome accomplishment, they're less convinced on any near-term practical applications of the technology.
New Scientist quotes Greg Barsh, a geneticist at Stanford University who studies dogs as models of human disease:
"I do not know of specific situations where the ability to produce transgenic dogs represents an immediate experimental opportunity,"
And Nathan Sutter, a dog geneticist at Cornell says it's not on his horizon at all, partly because of the expense of making and caring for the dogs...but also because the public still isn't really ready to accept that transgenic puppies won't someday rise up and kill us all.
BTW, this team is tangentially related to the guy who turned out to have faked a lot of human cell cloning data. But New Scientist says these puppies (and the cloned dog that came before them) are legit.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.