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Glow-in-the-Dark Kitty
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Byroney_WebMD_Staff posted:
So what do you think about manipulating genes to make a Cat Glow-in-the-Dark ? While they have a page on Facebook with many fans, but some people aren't so sure.

Do you think it's okay as long as the cat isn't harmed and it's for research? Does it make it safer for cats who like to cruise around outside at night? Or do you think it's a form of animal abuse?

Now I'm wondering what glow-in-the-dark animal will be next!

Byroney
Every dog has his day - but the nights are reserved for the cats ~ Unknown
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srstephanie responded:
Hi Byroney,

I haven't looked at any Facebook page and don't know if you are talking about something different ... but if you are talking about the kitten that was modified by a team at the Mayo Clinic (which is what the video report you linked to is about) ... then I think you have things confused.

The Mayo Clinic team is researching a way to help both humans and cats fight HIV (in humans) and FIV (in cats) which are very similar diseases. Both cats and humans have types of proteins called restrictive factors that are ineffective against FIV/HIV. The researchers inserted an effective monkey version of the proteins into the cat's genes/genome. At the same time, they inserted a jellyfish gene that causes the glowing ... for tracking purposes.

This was done by researchers as a means of giving a visual clue to see if the insertion of the gene that codes for proteins that are effective in preventing FIV were produced throughout the body and passed to future generations.

The researchers had no intention of creating a "designer" cat for people. There is no intention of using this method directly with cats or people in general. It was simply a way to help researchers understand how the restrictive factors can be used in future efforts to help protect cats and people from FIV/HIV.

If this was just a way to exploit cats for money ... then I think most people would be against it. But as a means used in a limited fashion in important medical research, that does not cause physical harm to the cat, I have no objections. It should not be used to make glow-in-the-dark pets ... and that was not the intention of the Mayo Clinic researchers. If it can help with research that will lead to saving the lives of millions of people with HIV and millions of cats with FIV ... I think it is valid research.

Here is where I have gotten my info on this:
http://www.science20.com/news_articles/gametetargeted_lentiviral_transgenesis_glowing_cats_fight_aids-82490

Here is a quote of two paragraphs from that article:

"The technique is called gamete-targeted lentiviral transgenesis -- essentially, inserting genes into feline oocytes (eggs) before sperm fertilization. Succeeding with it for the first time in a carnivore, the team inserted a gene for a rhesus macaque restriction factor known to block cell infection by FIV, as well as a jellyfish gene for tracking purposes. The latter makes the offspring cats glow green.

The macaque restriction factor, TRIMCyp, blocks FIV by attacking and disabling the virus's outer shield as it tries to invade a cell. The researchers know that works well in a culture dish and want to determine how it will work in vivo. This specific transgenesis (genome modification) approach will not be used directly for treating people with HIV or cats with FIV, but it will help medical and veterinary researchers understand how restriction factors can be used to advance gene therapy for AIDS caused by either virus."

Stephanie in Montreal
 
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hypercavy111 responded:
I wonder what the purpose is for a glow-in-the-dark kitty; another fanciful creature like those poor Persians that are bred so flat-faced that they can barely breathe? I do see the point about if they get out @ night, they could easily be seen; but most vets would tell you that cats are better off indoors, what with both human and animal predators. Let's try something better with genetic manipulation, such as working on hereditary diseases and such; and leave the weird stuff to the mad scientists!
 
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Byroney_WebMD_Staff replied to srstephanie's response:
Stephanie, you make some excellent points! I agree that the researchers at Mayo definitely had noble purposes and reasons behind creating the glowing cats.

This article about the Glowing Cats is better than the original link I posted yesterday. It has some really good pictures. Hopefully people will check out the link you posted too.

However, the fact is that you can currently buy Fish for your aquarium that have been modified to glow in the dark. Beagles, Pigs , rabbits, monkeys, and mice also have been made to glow in the dark, but are not widely commercially available (yet). There's also the case of Alba, a glow-in-the-dark rabbit was created as an "Artistic Work " by Eduardo Kac.

Hypercavy has a good point about creating an animal that can't breathe normally. While glowing doesn't seem to harm the creature involved, I do wonder about in the future. I would hate to see the animals ill-treated once the novelty of their glowing wears off.

Interesting discussion--thanks for posting!

Byroney
Every dog has his day - but the nights are reserved for the cats ~ Unknown


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