It might sound like the plot of a discarded Disney film — "Frankenbunny” or perhaps "The Nightmare Before Easter" — but an international team of scientists has bred rabbits that glow in the dark as part of a novel research project aimed at developing new and efficient treatments for genetic diseases.
The research team, from the University of Hawaii and the University of Istanbul, used cutting-edge genetic techniques to produce the glowing green rabbits born last week in Turkey. In normal light, they look like regular white rabbits. But when exposed to black light, the transgenic bunnies shine a bright and creepy shade of green.
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To achieve glowing effect, researchers injected a fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA into rabbit embryos that were then reinserted into a mother rabbit. When the litter of eight was born, two of the rabbits carried the glowing gene.
Researchers said the goal of the experiment was to show that genetic manipulation works efficiently in rabbits — a technique that could lead to effective new ways to produce medicines for genetic diseases.
"Our colleagues in Turkey have been so excited by the birth of the transgenic rabbits — and that excitement has spread to the public through news coverage on Turkish television," said Stefen Moisyadi, M.D., an associate professor at the University of Hawaii. "It’s been wonderful to see this international scientific collaboration produce such positive results."
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