Cloning research produces fluorescent green rabbits

Published On: Aug 08 2013 07:28:29 PM HST

Scientists are going gaga for green.  It's their new favorite color.

A team of University of Hawaii and Turkish researchers have successfully produced a litter of fluorescent green rabbits, which may lead to a new way to produce medicines.

It's a medical breakthrough that has scientists "hopping" with excitement.

A herd of rabbits was born last week in Istanbul, Turkey.  In normal lighting, they look just like their white rabbit siblings.  But when exposed to black light, the pair of transgenic bunnies glow a bright shade of green.

"We put eight eggs, eight babies were born, two were transgenic. 25 percent efficiency. Not bad," said Dr. Stefen Moisyadi, Associate Professor at the UH Institute for Biogenesis Research.

Moisyadi is the lead researcher who is furthering the cloning work developed by Dr. Ryuzo Yanagimachi, best known for his green cloned mice.   The glowing effect is the result of a fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA, which was injected into the rabbit embryos in the lab.

"We can inject the actual nucleus of the egg and what we did, we made a slightly larger hole that allows us to regulate the amount of DNA that we put in," explained Dr. Joel Marh, IBR Transgenic Facility Director.

But the green color is not the important part.  It's the green gene.

"It’s just a marker to show that we can take a gene that was not originally in the animal and now exists in the animal," said Moisyadi.

The goal is to eventually introduce beneficial genes to larger animals and as the success rate increases, the end result could be cheaper, more efficient ways to make medicine.

"Let’s say for some 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 with barrier reactives rather than a factory that will cost billions of dollars to build," said Moisyadi.

Bunny births are just the beginning. Scientists are anxiously waiting to see green when the first transgenic lamb is born in November.

The work on the transgenic animals is a collaboration between the UH Manoa Institute for Biogenesis Research at the John A. Burns of Medicine and two universities in Turkey.


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