Bacon in the dark, anyone?
A new report published by the University of Hawaii reveals that scientists have successfully created ten glow-in-the-dark piglets using jellyfish DNA.
Drs. Zhenfang Wu and Zicong Li of the South China Agricultural University in Guangdong Province, China explain their research in an academic manuscript submitted to the Biology of Reproduction journal citing a technique developed by scientists in Hawaii.
Essentially, the researchers injected fluorescent genetic material taken from jellyfish directly into pig embryos, incorporating foreign DNA into the animal’s natural make-up. Ten transgenic piglets were born in August.
“It’s just a marker to show that we can take a gene that was not originally present in the animal and now exists in it,” explained Dr. Stefan Moisyadi, a veteran bioscientist with the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Biogenesis Research.
Moisyadi noted that the animals are not harmed by the fluorescent protein and that they are expected to have the same life span as any other pigs.
Some around the web have joked about the promise of neon porkchops or glow-in-the-dark bacon, but the practical applications for this research go far beyond novelty.
According to Moisyadi, this method may eventually be used to create more efficient and less costly medicines for humans suffering from a variety of ailments.
For example, “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 a factory that will cost millions of dollars to build,” Moisyadi said.
This is not the first time animals have been gone luminescent in the name of science.
South Korean researchers claimed to have created a glowing dog in 2011, and the same technique used to engineer the transgenic piglets was used to create “glowing green rabbits” in Turkey according to the University of Hawaii.