Glowing bunny rabbits aren’t just for Sherlock Holmes reboots and acid trips anymore. Scientists from the University of Hawaii recently collaborated with a team from Istanbul, Turkey, where a couple of bright green lab rabbits were just born as part of a larger effort to better understand hereditary illness and make cheaper medicine. Also: Glow-in-the-dark bunnies!
This isn’t some inhumane magic trick. The rabbits are part of a genetic manipulation experiment, one that the researchers hope will shed some light on hereditary diseases and hopefully lead the way to producing drugs to help cure them. The embryos of the two green rabbits were injected with a fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA, giving them the “glowing gene.” The glowing effect is just to show that the genetic manipulation technique works, and in future experiments, researchers could inject beneficial DNA into the rabbits so that they might be used to produce medicine.
But for now, these bunnies just glow. “These rabbits are like a light bulb glowing, like an LED light all over their body,” Dr Stefan Moisyadi from the University of Hawaii told the local KHON news station. “And on top of it, their fur is beginning to grow and the greenness is shining right through their fur. It’s so intense.”
Don’t worry. It doesn’t hurt the little bunnies. Moisyadi says that the glowing rabbits will live long normal and healthy lives, pointing to a study from CalTech that yielded glowing mice that showed no adverse side effects. And who could forget the glowing dog from South Korea or the radioactive-like kitten from the Mayo Clinic who might hold the key for an AIDS vaccine?
As they experiment with bigger and bigger animals, the researchers gain a better understanding of how genetic manipulation works. Moisyadi hopes that one day they’ll “create bio-reactors that basically produce pharmaceuticals that can be made a lot cheaper.” Next up are a batch of glowing sheep that will move the Hawaii-Istanbul team’s research forward. And believe it or not, these won’t be the first glowing sheep to show up in this weird world we live in. [Discovery]
Picture: University of Hawaii