Have u ever heard of puppies that glow in the dark? Well this is not a joke, a team of South Korean scientists led by Byeong-ChunLee of South National University in South Korea have cloned puppies for cancer research.
The team took skin cells from a beagle, inserted fluorescent genes into them and put them into eggs before implanting them into the womb of a surrogate mother, a local mixed breed .
The first dog named Ruppy(male) was cloned in the year 2005.Ruppy – short for Ruby Puppy – was one of 5 cloned puppies genetically engineered to produce a fluorescent protein by scientists. At first look they may all seem to be like any other ordinary dog. But when placed under an ultraviolet light they all glow a deep red which is supposed to be a side effect of cloning. Six female beagles were born in 2006 through the cloning with a gene that produces a red fluorescent protein that makes them glow. Two died, but the four others survived.
The dogs are transgenic animals, which means their genetic code has been deliberately modified rather than mutating naturally.
Team member CheMyong Ko from the University of Lexington said they could go on to create dogs with human illnesses. ‘The next step for us is to generate a true disease model,’ he told New Scientist magazine.
However, many scientists have criticised the process saying dogs already serve as models for diseases including some cancers, narcolepsy and blindness. Nathan Sutter, a geneticist at Cornell University in New York added: ‘Transgenesis is laborious, expensive and slow.‘
Mr Lee’s team only had seven successful pregnancies from 344 specially cloned embryos implanted in 20 dogs. But Mr Lee said some of the five surviving dogs were now producing their own red-glowing puppies. The scientists transferred the fluorescent gene into each dog’s egg cell using a retrovirus, but the team was unable to control where the virus inserted the gene. Despite this, Mr Lee’s lab now hope to create dogs who have a specific oestrogen receptor knocked out, which will help them understand how this hormone affects fertility.