Two glowing bunnies have been born in a Turkish lab after scientists inserted a jellyfish genome into the DNA of an adult rabbit, producing transgenic offspring which appear normal in daylight but have a fluorescent green aura when placed under an ultraviolet light.
Researchers believe the same process used to insert the jellyfish genomes into a rabbit's DNA could also be used in livestock to insert genes for proteins used in medications.
"These rabbits are like a light bulb glowing, like an LED light all over their body. And on top of it, their fur is beginning to grow and the greenness is shining right through their fur. It’s so intense," biogenesis researcher Dr. Stefan Moisyadi told Hawaii local news channel KHON
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Moisyadi, an associate professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa, headed the experiment that was conducted at the University of Istanbul, where the bunnies were born earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported
According to Moisyadi, the additional genome does not hurt the baby rabbits, which he says are perfectly healthy and are expected to live a normal lifespan, which in the case of a rabbit is on average between 8 and 12 years.
The process responsible for the glowing green rabbits is known as transgenesis, in which scientists inserted a jellyfish protein gene into a rabbit's genomes.
According to the scientists, the glowing rabbits will pass the jellyfish gene down to their offspring.
The Turkish team's ultimate goal is to replicate the experiment's results in larger mammals such as sheep and cattle.
"Our main plan was to do sheep, but they only have one or two embryos max," Moisyadi told the Los Angeles Times. "Right now we have 10 pregnant sheep, and we hope that 25 percent of the babies glow green – maybe two or three of them."
"Animals can make valuable proteins in their milk that humans use for medicine, and you can extract the proteins quite easily," Moisyadi added. "It would make certain pharmaceutical production extremely cost-effective."
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These aren't the first transgenic animals to be produced in a lab.
In the 1980s, researchers at the University of Hawaii School of Medicine created green glowing mice, while in 2011, a collaboration project between the Mayo Clinic and Yamaguchi University successfully created a green glowing cat that was resistant to feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), the Atlantic notes
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