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Chinese Scientists Create Glow-in-the-Dark Pigs Using Jellyfish DNA

Green Pigs demonstrate success of UH reproductive science technique from UHMed on Vimeo.

Chinese researchers have created transgenic glow-in-the-dark pigs using jellyfish DNA in a technique first developed by reproductive scientists at the University of Hawaii.

Researchers at South China Agricultural University (SCAU) in Guangzhou province announced late last month that 10 transgenic piglets were born in 2013. Utilizing a technique pioneered by scientists at the University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa’s John Burns School of Medicine, the Chinese team was able to quadruple the success rate at which plasmids carrying a fluorescent protein in jellyfish DNA were transferred to the embryonic piglets. The result: piglets that glow green under black light.

According to the researchers:

The… technique involves proprietary pmgenie-3 plasmids conferring active integration during cytoplasmic injection. This technique was also used to produce the world’s first “glowing green rabbits” in Turkey earlier [in 2013]. Turkey is expected to announce results of similar research involving sheep in the new year.

The greenish glow indicates that fluorescent genetic material injected into the piglet embryos have become part of the animal’s genetic makeup.

“It’s just a marker to show we can take a gene that was not originally present in the animal and now exists in it,” said Dr. Stefan Moisyadi, a bioscientist at the UH medical school’s Institute for Biogenesis Research (IBR). Dr. Moisyadi insisted the genetically engineered pigs are not affected by the modification and will live as long as any other pigs.

But why engineer glow-in-the-dark pigs? The researchers said they want to introduce beneficial genes into larger animals to create better, cheaper medicines for humans.

“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 rather than in a factory that will cost millions of dollars to build,” said Moisyadi.

Drs. Zhenfang Wu and Zicong Li of SCAU detailed their findings in an academic manuscript recently submitted to the peer-reviewed scientific journal Biology of Reproduction.

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