Glow-in-the-dark cats used in vital AIDS research
As part of Healthcare Global's look back at 2011's biggest news stories, we've revisited this one from September...
Scientists in the US have created green glow-in-the-dark cats as part of their research into a potential cure for HIV/AIDS.
The researchers from the Mayo Clinic have modified the DNA of domestic moggies with two different genes; a fluorescent jellyfish gene and another which can fight feline AIDS, a close relative of the human HIV/AIDS virus.
The aim of the research is to create cats that are immune to the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) as well as identifying ways to combat HIV/AIDS in humans.
It is also hoped the experiment will prove a natural protein can prevent cats from contriving FIV, just as it can in macaque monkeys, who naturally have a restriction factor against the virus.
Both genes were injected into a female cat’s eggs prior to fertilisation from a male cat and the genes were passed on to their kittens.
The jellyfish gene was used to track the restrictive protein to see if it was successfully transferred, making the kittens glow green under a UV light if they are reproducing the protein in their tissues.
Eric Poeschla, a molecular biologist at the Mayo Clinic and leader of the study,said: “One of the best things about this biomedical research is that it is aimed at benefiting both human and feline health.
“It can help cats as much as people.”
Over 30 million people worldwide have died from HIV/AIDS and there is currently no effective vaccine against the virus.
Meanwhile, millions of domestic cats die from FIV every year it is also hoped the knowledge will help protect the 36 species of endangered wild felines from contracting the illness.