Glow-in-the-dark cats offer insight into AIDS

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63 Responses to “Glow-in-the-dark cats offer insight into AIDS”

  1. Guest says:

    He’s not going to nom on your face in the middle of the night, of course not.

  2. Blaze Curry says:

    How soon before they start to grow larger and smarter? At least they’ll glow while they chase us stupid apes through the decaying urban jungle…

  3. bcsizemo says:

    So is that bioluminesce or is that black light reactive?

    • bob d says:

      “So is that bioluminesce or is that black light reactive?”
      It’s the latter.  The green fluorescent protein (taken from jellyfish) makes (parts of) the organism appear green under ultraviolet light.  
      It’s been irking me for many years that people refer to it as “glow in the dark.”  It isn’t, even if that sounds more impressive.

      • bcsizemo says:

        Yeah that’s what I figured.  I mean it’s a cool bio marker, but not really the same as actually glowing in the dark.

      • Darwindr says:

        >The green fluorescent protein (taken from jellyfish) makes (parts of) the organism appear green under ultraviolet light. 

        That’s what I thought too and is definitely how they made the Ruppies glow (red-glowing ‘ruby-puppies’) back in 2009.  But look at figure 2 of the article “Ambient light– and 485 nM light–illuminated images showing GFP signal at indicated times after birth.”

        485 nM light is blue-green visible light, not ultraviolet.

        However it’s true that they will not glow at all in a completely dark room.

  4. Aloisius says:

    That picture would make a good poster for a horror film.

  5. Rick Gold says:

    How does this cure HIV?

    • Brewer_ME says:

      Read the article- available at http://www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nmeth.1703.html

      The glow in the dark gene is an indication that the important gene was also delivered (as far as I can tell).

    • Rich Keller says:

      From the article:

      The macaque restriction factor, TRIMCyp, blocks FIV by attacking and disabling the virus’s outer shield as it tries to invade a cell. The researchers know that works well in a culture dish and want to determine how it will work in vivo. This specific transgenesis (genome modification) approach will not be used directly for treating people with HIV or cats with FIV, but it will help medical and veterinary researchers understand how restriction factors can be used to advance gene therapy for AIDS caused by either virus.

      So, here’s my guess – after doing this, they might be able to develop something, a serum, perhaps, that acts like a restriction factor.

    • electronicnonsense says:

      As I understand, this gene is often used in gene therapy research to mark which animals have been subjected to the genes that are the focus of the research.  So the glow gene has nothing to do with HIV, other than letting the researchers shine a blacklight on the cats to quickly tell which is which.  It’s fairly commonly used.

    • beforewepost says:

      The glow-in-the-dark gene comes from jellyfish and is just used to differentiate cells that have a particular gene versus those that don’t.

      The researchers injected a cat egg with the jellyfish gene and some macaque DNA that protects macaques from HIV. They then fertilized the cat egg.

      The fact that all the cat’s cells glow is used to indicate that the macaque DNA is probably in all the cat’s cells as well. If this therapy were ever used to inoculate humans (not too likely since it requires in-vitro fertilization) the jellyfish genes wouldn’t be used. 

      • IRMO says:

        “The fact that all the cat’s cells glow is used to indicate that the macaque DNA is probably in all the cat’s cells as well. If this therapy were ever used to inoculate humans (not too likely since it requires in-vitro fertilization) the jellyfish genes wouldn’t be used.”

        Include me out then.

    • technogeekagain says:

      FIV in cats is similar enough to HIV in humans that a gene which blocks transmission of FIV may offer insight into how to block transmission of HIV. And cats as lab animals are a heck of a lot easier to work with than primates.

      • Guest says:

        primates are notoriously difficult to work with.

        • Forget primates.  If we want to cure human ailments test it on humans.

          Tired argument, but I’m sticking with it.

          • Guest says:

            Primates are notoriously hard to joke with too.

          • herrnichte says:

            Forget primates.  If we want to cure human ailments test it on humans

            Humans are primates.  But perhaps we should “forget” them as well?   (I’m adding this to my concise-self-contradictory list along with “Getcher Gummit Hands off’n my Social Security!”)

          • DrGlam says:

            Are you seriously suggesting there is the slightest possibility of injecting a transgenic construct into a human ovum to produce transgenic babies to experiment on?  Leaving aside the ethical issues, which are immense, in a country where embryonic stem cell research has been blocked for years, transgenic experimental babies?  Really?

          • blueelm says:

            Ok. So first off, humans are primates. And who do you suggest we start infecting with HIV?

        • benher says:

          “primates are notoriously difficult to work with.”

          Tell me about it. I work with seven of them.

      • And yet are more distantly related to us than a banana.

        Wouldn’t we better off testing this on bananas?

        That probably doesn’t work…

      • Listener43 says:

        Have you ever tried to bathe a cat, my friend? “Easy to work with” is not a phrase which would leap to your lips had you ever done.

  6. Elijah says:

    I CAN HAZ SOULZ?

  7. Meghan Callahan says:

    I thought it was spooky to have cats eyes glowing in the dark with nothing but a black void around them. Turns out the reverse is freakier…

  8. Hiroaki says:

    Three cheers for the research breakthrough, but I what I want to know is how long until I can adopt a glow-in-the-dark cat?  I can’t imagine much of anything that would feel more like living in science fiction than a glowing pet slinking around my house at night.  Too cool.

    • Rich Keller says:

      I was wondering if the kittens had been adopted into homes. If I had a glow cat, I’d name her Pandora after that planet in some James Cameron movie.

      • Growing up, I had a cat we named Pandora, but for a very different reason.  Specifically she had a way of filthing up the litterbox with some downright evil excrement.  Therefore her litterbox was the source of all evil in the world, hence…Pandora.  

        We had another cat Cassandra.  My parents were on a Greek mythology kick back then.

      • Lexicat says:

        Rich, those kittens will in all likelihood be ‘sacrificed’ and studied in post mortem. I’m not asserting a pro or con on animal testing here, but it’s good to face the realities of animal testing.

  9. That’s cool and cute as long as they haven’t purposefully been giving aids to cats.

  10. David Neil says:

    Could you imagine being a human and being black light reflective?  You’d be a hit at the next rave!

  11. nanuq says:

    How much does anyone want to bet that whole “useful for AIDS research” is just something they came up with after the fact to justify making glow-in-the-dark cats?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      How much does anyone want to bet that whole “useful for AIDS research” is just something they came up with after the fact to justify making glow-in-the-dark cats?

      The WMD of the biology world?

  12. technogeekagain says:

    I wonder whether the fluorescence gene is transmitted to offspring. Researchers would want to establish a breeding population of these animals if possible, so they don’t have to hand-construct each generation of subjects… but nature might not cooperate.

    Probably a good thing they glow only under UV. Glowing continuously could be a considerable energy drain.

    • DrGlam says:

      “I wonder whether the fluorescence gene is transmitted to offspring.
      Researchers would want to establish a breeding population of these
      animals if possible, so they don’t have to hand-construct each
      generation of subjects… but nature might not cooperate.”

      Figure 4 in the Nature Techniques paper includes photos of F1 offspring carrying the GFP marker.  So, yes, it is.

  13. Daniel Latta says:

    That pic was begging to be a demotivational poster: http://cheezburger.com/View/5195166976

  14. Lobster says:

    Oh god, the eyes… 

  15. Brainspore says:

    On a completely unrelated note, Burton’s adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” still sucks.

  16. allybeag says:

    Think that cat’s scary? Here’s mine, with not an altered gene in sight:

  17. wesleycoll says:

    This extraordinarily odd research may or may not be useful in, say, 10 to 15 years time. Then again, by that time, we’ll hopefully have developed a better sense of ethics and done away with experimenting with animals for human benefits for good. Am I the only one outraged with the free reign given to researchers to try whatever comes to their fancy, in order to see whether, randomly, they’ll find the cure for something? I don’t want to sound prude or a nut, but shouldn’t someone, some ethics panel or something, be in charge of overseeing what’s going on in this mostly private, mostly for-profit labs? In the meantime, stats show that major cures or at least effective therapies that have reached the market in the past 30 years, including research on HIV, can be credited to government-sponsored scientific teams who’re under much more scrutiny and regulations. Often, big pharma steps in and makes a killing only after a drug has been developed and fully tested by underpaid university professors and research teams. I no longer believe that unsupervised technicians care or are even being paid to care for the animals tested in the confins of private-research labs. Ethically, I have serious doubts whether it’s our call to preside over the lives of these defenseless creatures, apart for the slaughtering we already submit them worldwide. Tte validity of using and disposing of other species, mostly genetically unrelated to humans, to the advancement of our survival to unfruitful senile ages, is at least highly questionable. Survive for what? More War on Terror, war on drugs, war profiteering? Then again, I don’t claim to know all the facts. I stand by what I said but I also recognize the limited scope of my opinion, given my professional qualifications. Which, by the way, are infinitely small compared to my oversized cat bias. Regards

    • Mark Dow says:

      Yes, all animal care and research is subject to ethics guidelines, and the specifics of all research should be reviewed and approved (or not).

      In this case, “All animal procedures were approved by the Mayo Clinic Institutional Animal Care and Use and Institutional Biosafety Committees.”

    • Guest says:

      “Am I the only one outraged with the free reign given to researchers to
      try whatever comes to their fancy, in order to see whether, randomly,
      they’ll find the cure for something?”

      What is this, the 19th century? There is no randomness, there is careful statistical analysis. There is no free reign, there are ethics rules AND laws. There is outrage, but only your further education on how far we have come will help with that.

  18. crummett says:

    And poof! A new meme is born!

  19. Evolutionary pressures will soon produce black-light equipped mice…

  20. wesleycoll says:

    I do respect the scientific stature of the Mayo Clinic. But for the record, even before the “19th century,” the ethical aspects of experimenting on animals was already a hot topic among the scientific community, and many respectable thinkers AND scientists were questioning its validity. I won’t insult your intelligence mentioning them. As for “there’s no randomness, but careful, etc, etc,” I don’t seriously believe you gave the matter a careful thought. The allocation of public or private funding for research is guided by market and profitability considerations first. Otherwise, how can anyone explain the size of the cosmetics industry’s research budget for development of a new lipstick, for example, compared to research into Parkinson’s Disease, despite its very high profile advocates? In any case, I realize this is not the appropriate forum to discuss such a matter, as it may trivialize it into a mere contest to win an argument, regardless of its relevance. Besides, I’m afraid we’d be robbing the space from the very witty and way more humorous usual BB posters. Regards

  21. MDwebguy says:

    I’m imagining mice wearing tiny hardhats with mounted blacklights, as they scurry around the house looking for crumbs in the middle of the night, to warn them of nearby housecats.

  22. C is for Cats that glow green in the dark
    A is for “Ass, that’s in *blacklight*” remark
    T is for Testing of Animals controversy
    S is for Sigh, such dramaturgy.

    Yay, CATS!

  23. elisd says:

    Interesting to note that the Lentivirus they’re using to transcribe genes into Cat ova is itself likely a modified version of FIV or HIV (which are types of Lentivirus).  I have a friend who used to work in a lab that used a Lentivirus that was derived from HIV to create transgenic mice.   It’s cool that we’ve created a tool from a deadly disease that we’re using to explore a possible cure for that disease, questions of the ethics of creating glow-in-the-dark cats aside.  See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lentivirus

  24. Nicky G says:

    Let’s just not accidentally or purposefully introduce the gene that chameleons have to change color, or we’ll end up with the crazy cats from The Windup Girl.

  25. Sparrow says:

    I’Z IN YR GENOME, INSRTNG SEKWENCES.

  26. Robert Bell says:

    Awesome! I want a glow in the dark kitteh!

  27. Bat42 says:

    Great.  A new way for my cat to wake me up in the middle of the night.

  28. really? nobody has mentioned Eduardo Kac yet? sheesh, give the guy his due! of, course, it’s a different method, but hey….this glowing animal stuff is OLD news.

    http://www.ekac.org/gfpbunny.html#gfpbunnyanchor

  29. TheMudshark says:

    Great, now I´ve lost all interest in my boring old dark-in-the-dark kitteh.

  30. Chris McNeil says:

    The photo is faked – Why would the whiskers and fur glow? They are made of keritin, and don’t have any cells to synthesise GFP.

    • Chris McNeil says:

      Well – the photo’s from the paper, so I think I might be completely wrong!

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      The photo is faked – Why would the whiskers and fur glow? They are made of keritin, and don’t have any cells to synthesise GFP.

      Is that different from the exoskeleton of a scorpion?

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