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Scientists create green-glowing piglets

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January 15, 2014

Scientists have created piglets that glow green under a black-light (see the video below)

Scientists have created piglets that glow green under a black-light (see the video below)

Scientists in Guangdong Province, Southern China, have created piglets that glow green under a black-light. The glow is caused by a fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA that was transferred into the embryos within the sow, as a marker to show that the transfer of genetic material had been successful.

The process was part of an experiment to test the success rate of moving genetic material between animals. The technique used, developed at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa's John A. Burns School of Medicine, has quadrupled the rate at which plasmids (DNA molecules) can be transferred.

The long-term aim of the research goal is to introduce beneficial genes into larger animals as a means of creating less costly and more efficient medicines.

"[For] patients who suffer from hemophilia and need the blood-clotting enzymes in their blood, we can make those enzymes a lot cheaper in animals rather than a factory that will cost millions of dollars to build," says Dr. Stefan Moisyadi, Associate Professor at the Institute for Biogenesis Research (IBR), in a news story on the University of Hawai`i website.

The IBR technique, which reportedly does not impact on the animal's lifespan or quality of life, was used to produce the world’s first "glowing green rabbits" by scientists in Turkey last year. The Turkish scientists are expected to complete similar research using sheep later this year.

View the following video to see a demonstration of the piglets under a black-light.

Source: University of Hawai`i

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds.   All articles by Stu Robarts
12 Comments

This doesn't seem right to me and is definitely unnatural. There are other worthy areas of research, such as the search for cures to different types of cancer or other diseases, that I think scientists should be spending time on instead.

GoForward
15th January, 2014 @ 07:47 am PST

So I can find and eat my bacon sandwich in the middle of the night.....?

JPAR
15th January, 2014 @ 08:08 am PST

Oooohhh, I want some glow-in-the-dark BACON.

Chuck Anziulewicz
15th January, 2014 @ 09:21 am PST

@ GoForward: you really didn't read the article, did you?

They're not doing this because there's a need for bacon that's easy to find if the light in your fridge fails!

"The long-term aim of the research goal is to introduce beneficial genes into larger animals as a means of creating less costly and more efficient medicines".

In other words, this IS "... the search for cures to different types of cancer or other diseases".

Keith Reeder
15th January, 2014 @ 12:26 pm PST

@ GoFoward:

My job is to work with scientists at academia and commercial biotech companies to introduce new genetic material into cells, tissues and sometimes embryos or whole animals. In fact, I often use introducing the GFP gene (green fluorescent protein) into cells as a proof of concept that I can get other genes to be expressed too. Very similar or even the same as the gene they put into these piglets. Genome editing is what it's know as, and we're at the point where we can do "control c/control v" with genetic material the same way I can do this on my keyboard right now to introduce new letters into my post. I facilitate this through special chemicals and electrical pulses that temporarily make holes in the cells' outer bi-lipid membrane as well as the nuclear membrane.

Is this unnatural? Well, it takes either a virus or my machine/techniques to do this sort of thing. If the article had suggested that this process was completed using a lentivirus to introduce new genetic material, would you be more OK with it since it is completely natural? This technology is used to directly cure cancer and is close to defeating Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. I have worked with researchers who have now CURED lymphoma, leukemia, HER-based breast cancer, etc. The list is a mile long and these therapies and cures would NEVER have been developed without transfection of new genetic material into mammalian (read Human) cells and tissues. Does the word "natural" matter to you? If bacteria transfer genetic material between each other through plasmid transfer, and we're co-opting this same process, then I would argue that what I do is completely natural, regardless of where the genetic material comes from, or where I'm putting it.

I'm not asking you this to be snarky, I'm asking because I'm often confronted with the ETHICs of genome engineering and I'd really like to hear what people, especially the smart ones on this site, have to say about it.

Biotechz
15th January, 2014 @ 01:53 pm PST

@ GoFoward:

"Unnatural." So are vaccines, plywood, spacecraft, pacemakers, computers, and a whole host of other things that make life better. If it 1) does not hurt the animal, and 2) does help further medical science, you have nothing to complain about unless you're one of those Bible-banging (or Animal Liberation Front manifesto-banging) weirdos who would turn back 35,000 years of human progress so we can all die before we turn 30 due to living on a starvation diet of onions, acorns, and malaria.

I will assume you're not one of those people and just ask you to check your premises on the benefits of "unnatural" research. We do a lot worse to animals for a lot worse reasons, this is not the battlefield to choose with regards to animal research.

Justin Chamberlin
15th January, 2014 @ 03:35 pm PST

Hey, blacklight the barn and you can keep track of the piglets!

I do, however, applaud this idea as a way to help the chances of finding ways to cure our diseases and cancers.

People trivialising this story are narrow-minded and looking for an excuse to ban any research for any reason.

They may have a case against Monsanto for (Frankenstein) GM foods, but this is different.

The Skud
15th January, 2014 @ 11:49 pm PST

Thanks for your responses to my post Keith Reeder, Biotechz and others. I am all for progress but believe we need to be careful with any new technology or method and thoroughly study the impacts on us, animals and our environment so that years from now, we won't have to say "we made a big mistake there". Just some examples: Do a Google search for "BPA effects" or "R22 effects" and you'll find some sites listing the problems with these products. We created BPA and R22 and these have been in use for quite some time, but now many products tout that they are "BPA free" for health and safety reasons, and R22 has been virtually phased out. This is a complete turnaround from products that were once perceived as good.

We may not be able to avoid all mistakes, but at least we can try.

GoForward
16th January, 2014 @ 09:03 am PST

Why is this here ! it's disgusting how people experiment on animals

Steven Randolph
16th January, 2014 @ 11:34 am PST

A punk rocker's dream

ezeflyer
16th January, 2014 @ 04:12 pm PST

I want to see animals and plants made to actually glow. These pigs don't glow, they fluoresce.

To actually be glowing they'd have to emit light like a firefly. Fluorescing is converting the ultra violet light radiation to a lower frequency in the human visible range.

Until one of these pigs can be used like a live lightstick in a dark room, it's not glowing.

Gregg Eshelman
16th January, 2014 @ 07:06 pm PST

"GoForward does not like" ≠ mistake...

@ Steven Randolph: see if you still feel like that when a replacement heart valve from a pig saves your life...

Keith Reeder
17th January, 2014 @ 12:12 pm PST
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