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Glowing Cats a New Tool in AIDS Research 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the healing-glow dept.
sciencehabit writes "Scientists have developed a strain of green-glowing cat by infecting their eggs with a virus containing a foreign gene—the first time this method has worked in a carnivore. Experts say the advance could make the cat a valuable new genetic model—and potentially protect it from an HIV-like virus. "
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Glowing Cats a New Tool in AIDS Research

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  • by Roogna (9643) on Monday September 12, 2011 @10:38AM (#37377184)

    From my experience in life, my cats always liked trying to wake me up in the middle of the night. So now they'll be giving off light too? Great. Not an improvement.

    • It would really freak out any visitors at night. Go to sleep at night right when you are about to fall asleep you are in a half daze. You feel a bit of a movement then there is a glowing cat staring you down.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday September 12, 2011 @11:35AM (#37377734) Homepage

      I'm glad I quit doing hallucinogens a long time ago. Reality is getting to be just too damned weird as it is.

      • I'm glad I quit doing hallucinogens a long time ago.

        You sure about that? After all, you think you read this comment.

    • Not to rain on your joke, but this seems to be GFP, which is fluorescent, not "glow in the dark." You'd have to shine a much brighter blue light on them to get them to emit green light. So your cats will only wake you up if you have a blinding blue night-light and are wearing glasses that filter out the blue light but let in the green light. Which is fine if that's what you're into, I'm not judging. Some people think I'm weird for having three cats.
      • So your cats will only wake you up if you have a blinding blue night-light

        You mean like the power indicator LED on a growing number of electronic devices?

        • No. The excitation light for a fluorophore is always going to be more intense and higher-energy than the emitted light, otherwise it would violate the laws of thermodynamics. If the LED light on your clock isn't bright enough to wake you up, the light emitted from your cat will not be bright enough to wake you up.
    • by deglr6328 (150198)

      Oh fer cri, it's 2011 people, we've been doing this kind of thing for DECADES. The cat isn't self luminous, it's NOT BIOLUMINESCENT, IT'S FLUORESCENT.

      It does get me to thinking though, are there any phosphorescent proteins known?

      • by Reverand Dave (1959652) on Monday September 12, 2011 @12:54PM (#37378728)
        The little neon tetra's at the pet store they sell for a buck each have phosphorescent proteins from jellyfish in them. The don't glow brightly, but they do glow.
        • by deglr6328 (150198)

          Mmmmmno, they don't. The fish are FLUORescent, not PHOSPHORescent. They're transfected with GFP like these cats. Hence the name GFP: green fluorescent protein.

          FLUORESCENCE PHOSPHORescence ELECTROluminescence GALVANOluminescence BIOLUMinescence

          All these phenomena are distinct. I'm wondering if anyone has ever heard of any naturally occurring PHOSphorescent molecules.

        • by deglr6328 (150198)

          Oh, I guess /. doesn't render =/= signs, like the ones that were supposed to appear in between all those terms in my last msg. Megalamesville. C'mon, what is this 1997?

    • I'm sure it's only a soft glow, and it will make it harder to trip over or accidentally kick them in the dark. That would be a big safety improvement, especially when they try to get your attention by zig-zagging just in front of your swinging feet in total darkness.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday September 12, 2011 @10:39AM (#37377194) Journal
    Just some monochromatic green glow. Call me when the skin of the cat is a 1920x1080p display with 24bit color.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why am I suddenly reminded of the John Ritter movie, "Skin Deep"?

  • by v1 (525388) on Monday September 12, 2011 @10:47AM (#37377254) Homepage Journal

    It's fluorescing. Yes, technically that is a "glow" but glow is a lot more general term. All fluorescing items glow, but not all glowing items fluoresce. Most people that read "glow" will expect to turn out the lights and see a green cat without needing to shine an invisible special lighting on it.

    • by sandytaru (1158959) on Monday September 12, 2011 @10:53AM (#37377310) Journal
      If I had a cat like this I'd install the blacklights in my light fixtures and keep the normal lights off all the time.
      • by v1 (525388)

        If I had a cat like this I'd install the blacklights in my light fixtures and keep the normal lights off all the time.

        Or at least install some little strip blacklights under all the cabinet and cupboard kicks to keep the floor areas lit. I must admit having a green glowing cat would be a novel thing. I assume this is a genetic trait and I bet you could get big bucks for glowing kittens.

        I didn't see any mention of side-effects or other health issues in the article - you've got to wonder if there are any si

        • by Nerdos (1960936)
          I didn't RTFA, but I assume this is just a GFP hybridization. Basically you attach a gene that makes a green fluorescent protein to another gene, so that the protein product has a little extra bit that sticks out and produces green light when uv is shined on it. this enables, for example, to see where a particular protein trends to concentrate. It's a technique that had been used successfully in many organisms without any obvious effects.
          • It's a technique that had been used successfully in many organisms without any obvious effects.

            Other than the 96% mortality rate for the procedure. Seriously, the process is incredibly far from a point of "no obvious effects."

            Also if you RTFA you will see that they have a slightly modified method which yields only a 77% mortality rate.

            Finally those that do go on to live have variations at the molecular level that still are poorly understood and side effects from those variations even less so. So let's not go simplifying this whole process by saying, "oh, ho hum just another insertion of genes

            • I suppose it's a bad idea then to make it mandatory for traffic cops. I suppose the part where they have to be naked also wouldn't go down well though.

      • by adisakp (705706)

        If I had a cat like this I'd install the blacklights in my light fixtures and keep the normal lights off all the time.

        If you have a cat and install blacklights, you might not like what you see. Cat urine glows. And you'd be surprised where cats get their urine. Sometimes they spray carpet and furniture, sometimes your bed or sheets, floorboards, all around the litter box etc. Seriously, taking a blacklight into a cat-owners home is usually not a pretty revelation.

    • If you want to get technical, get technical. It's not "invisible" light you're shining on it. The maximum excitation wavelength for eGFP (which I assume they're using) is 488 nm, visible light is 390 to 750. You'd need to shine a blue light on them and be using filters to block the blue light from your eyes.
    • by Macman408 (1308925) on Monday September 12, 2011 @01:32PM (#37379192)

      And in the same strain of disappointing mainstream science reporting, basically everything I've read on this seems to focus on the "we made cats glow green" part, rather than the more serious part of the research, which is to protect against AIDS. The gene to make the cat's fur fluoresce green is just a marker so that they know which cats will also have the gene that could protect against AIDS, and can then run experiments to see if that gene works as they hope. That article seems to be better than average, in that it largely focuses on the AIDS part, and keeps the "omg glowing cats" restrained to the headline and a few spots in the body.

      I'm just waiting for the article about the research dog that harbors a cure for cancer, but more importantly, it can skateboard!

      • by tinkerton (199273)

        Nice. But hey this is even better. You can use the 'fluorescence virus' separately. When is it coming up for sale? Next time you see a cow glowing in the night, it wasn't me. Probably.

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        And in the same strain of disappointing mainstream science reporting, basically everything I've read on this seems to focus on the "we made cats glow green" part, rather than the more serious part of the research, which is to protect against AIDS.

        Weird, because the first 3 articles I read off of Google News were entirely focused on the AIDS part, mentioning the glowing part only in the headline, and then in passing towards the end of the articles where they said they fluorescent gene was used to track where the modified genes were being expressed.

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        I don't fuck nasty whores or do IV drugs. I DO own a cat. Therefore, glowing cats are more relevant to my interests than AIDS cures.

    • by DiEx-15 (959602)
      I don't care. I want.
  • by ProfMobius (1313701) on Monday September 12, 2011 @11:02AM (#37377432)
    Why are those people always making those cool GM pets and never sell them ?
    I want a glowing cat ! Just sell them already, I'm sure there is a market for that !
  • by LongearedBat (1665481) on Monday September 12, 2011 @11:03AM (#37377446)

    Seriously? Green glowing cats due to virus infection in a lab?!? Talk about comic book joke sci-fi... only for real. Totally awsome! Funnier than sharks with frikkin' lazer beams.

    When I was a kid I lamented the boring age I was born into. I woz wrong. Can't wait to see what the next few decades will bring. Or should we be afraid, very afraid?

    (I wonder how my cat would react if he met a glowing cat in the front yard at night.)

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      (I wonder how my cat would react if he met a glowing cat in the front yard at night.)

      Depends on how it smells. Cats may be sight based for prey, but they're very scent based when dealing with each other.

    • A little while ago we had something similar: fluorescent dogs [slashdot.org]. The interesting thing with the dogs is that you can turn the effect on and off depending on what drugs you mix into their food...
  • Green Patches (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Patches), where cats on the spacecraft are born with green patches over their eyes, and it turns out to be an alien organism which has taken control of all life on the planet.
  • Everyone knows a glowing puss should be avoided, aids be damned. Wouldn't it be more useful to make bugs glow instead of the creatures that eat them? Glowing mosquitos. That is all I'm asking for.

  • They should consider selling these kittens. Glowing kittens would command a high price and there is definitely a market out there for unusual and cute pets. Sell these little guys and reinvest the money into more research. People already give large charitable donations, this would help encourage more people to give. "Give to a good cause and get a kick ass glowing kitten :3"
  • Nowhere in the article did they mention where I could obtain one of these glowing kittens.
  • ... and we will have really scary critters jack-pawing around . . . http://www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com/cgi-bin/seigmiaow.pl [catsthatlo...hitler.com]

  • From TFA:

    The method's efficiency is only half the story, however. When the researchers tried to infect blood cells from the genetically modified kittens with FIV, the virus didn't replicate well. Poeschla and colleagues next plan to test whether the cats are resistant to FIV, or, if not, whether they are less likely to develop feline AIDS after infection.

    "I think cats will become easier to utilize as a model organism now that you can manipulate the genome," VandeWoude says. "They're not going to replace mic

    • No, this is GOOD NEWS. FIV is the number one reason many cats in shelters are put to death - it was conflated with HIV and since it is transmissible through bites, FIV positive cats are often considered "un-adoptable" and killed, since they have an unknowable lifespan. If these little guys are resistant to FIV because of this protein, it might mean additional promising avenues of research for this disease - and eventually a cure.
  • How is this the first carnivore they did this with? Is this old news? I read about this with a dog several months ago.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/27/us-korea-dog-idUSTRE76Q1MK20110727 [reuters.com]

  • They're not *supposed* to do that.

  • I'll just turn off this here light and let's see if you glow or not. And seriously why is it that they are making everything glow in these tests, how about making a cat that can talk, or breathe underwater but no there must have been a heck of a sale on the genes that make stuff glow and some scientist is stuck in lab thinking what are we going to do with it all
    • I'll just turn off this here light and let's see if you glow or not.

      Vanilla Ice unavailable for comment...

  • Makes not to self... Never have unprotected sex with a glowing cat.
  • "the first time this method has worked in a carnivore"? Eh? Here's a report of glowing cats from 2007: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-9833107-1.html [cnet.com]

    Hard to tell what the veracity of the South Korean report is, though, and what sort of technique they used. So maybe "this method" really is new?
    • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

      That was done via SCNT [wikipedia.org] (aka cloning). This was done by using a virus to inject the modified gene into an egg cell, and the success rate is around an order of magnitude higher than it is for SCNT, but it's the first time it's been successfully done with a carnivore.

      Yes, I rtfa:

      the only proven way of getting a new gene into a cat, somatic cell nuclear transfer, is tricky ... The strategy works in only a fraction of cases. In cats it's been used to create glowing kittens with no other traits, just proof that it can be made to work.

      Poeschla and his colleagues turned to a different method—using a virus to carry genes into an egg cell—that had worked in animals including mice and cows but never been successful in a carnivore. ... The 23% success rate is much higher than the typical 3% seen with somatic cell nuclear transfer

  • Experts say the advance could make the cat a valuable new genetic modelâ"and potentially protect it from an HIV-like virus. "

    In other words, they are going to expose animals just like your pet to HIV and then vivisect them.

  • The picture of the kitty looks fake. Looks more like under-lit glow lamp, rather than internal glow. (ie: how exactly are its CLAWS glowing? I think not...)
    • Uh... it's a fluorescent glow, not an internal glow. The fluorescent protein is bound to keratin, the protein that makes up a cat's fur and claws. These are more accurately described as "blacklight reactive kitties."
  • At a party back in the 70's. John Lennon was there. He saw it too.
  • Poor cats!!!

    Dear scientist, please make your ass glowing so I can find it in the dark........

  • do your research on glowing humans, leave cats alone, you should all die horribly of aids and cancer for testing on animals, if not i will gladly shoot you, just send me a card with name and adress

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