Whenever we think humankind has reached the limit of knowledge, science comes around and knocks on our doors with more surprises. The constant quest of humans to find out more about the human body, and about the life of the animal kingdom, has led us to explore and create things. Sometimes it feels like a never-ending search, but humans never gave up on their curiosity. New types of experiments and a whole new realm of imagination have combined to give us some strange results. So, make sure to stick around until the end to hear about all of the 10 strange things that were grown in a lab that you didn’t know existed.
A hamburger cooked at a news conference in London made headlines in 2013. The hamburger, nicknamed “schmeat” was the world’s first lab-grown burger eaten.
A Dutch scientist of vascular physiology made this incredible food technology by turning cells taken from cows into strips of muscle, which were fused to produce the patty. This sustainable approach for meat production took five long years, and $325,000 to accomplish.
When it comes to its taste, there were mixed feelings among the food experts. For some of the food critics, it was “close to meat, but lacked the juicy flavor.” While for others, it tasted exactly like a real one.
Prof. Mark Post, the man behind the technology, termed the achievement a good start. He also mentioned that the lab-grown burgers, which consist of billions of synthetic cells, will take some time to hit the market. (source)
2. Super Cloned Sniffer Dogs
Cloning is a controversial topic, and it is not something that has been done too often, but, one team in South Korea decided to do just that to create a team of friendly Labradors.
It wasn’t just that someone in Korea wanted a new puppy, instead, Korea’s customs service decided to have more sniffer dogs by cloning them. The justification was that only three out of every 10 selectively bred sniffer dogs that received training (at a whopping sum of $40,140 each) passed their training exam.
To avoid the waste of time and money, the customs authority invested a substantial amount to produce each of the six genetic duplicates of a single Labrador retriever.
The cloning project was carried out by a team of scientists from Seoul National University. This is the same group of researchers who managed to create the world’s first dog clone, an Afghan hound named Snuppy.
The 300 million won ($238,000) project was successfully finished in 2005, and the Korean Customs Service introduced the seven cloned Labrador retrievers to the world in 2008, after they successfully passed their training exam. (source)
3. Spider Goats
We have seen Peter Parker as Spider-Man in movies saving people’s lives by using his spider webs. But unlike him, Freckles, the spider goat, is not an imaginary character, and she actually has the powers of a spider.
If you would have met Freckles, she would look like a normal farmyard kid to you, but her extraordinary ability coming from her manipulated DNA is proof of what 21st-century science can achieve.
The remarkable goat was created by Randy Lewis, a professor of genetics at Utah State University. He was interested in merging goats and spiders to create spider silk, which is one of the strongest materials in nature, but it is difficult to find in large quantities.
Randy and his team took the gene that encodes the silk from an orb-weaver spider and placed it among the DNA that prompts milk production in goats. This genetic circuit was then inserted into an egg and then was then implanted in a mother goat.
As a result, when freckles began to lactate, her milk was full of spider silk protein. The silk inside the milk is not only visible but can be lifted out from the milk separately. “We’re interested in dragline silk – the silk that spiders catch themselves with when they fall. It’s stronger than Kevlar,” Randy Lewis said to the reporter. (source)
4. Blood Stem Cell
Stem cell research has been growing rapidly since the past decade and has shown promising results in clinical trials of various health conditions. After 20 years of continuous laboratory experiments, scientists have finally managed to create stem cells that produce our blood for the first time.
This could be big news for people suffering from blood disorders and leukemia, as experts believe that the technology can replace bone marrow transplant procedures, and could be used to create blood for transfusions.
The entire project was a collaborative work between stem-cell biologist George Daley of Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts and Shahin Rafii of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
George’s team synthesized human cells that work like blood stem cells, although they are not the same as the natural ones in our body, and Shahin’s team transformed mature cells from mice into full versions of blood stem cells.
“This is a very big deal. If you can develop [these cells] in the lab in a safe way and in high enough numbers, you wouldn’t be dependent on donors,” says Carolina Guibentif at the University of Cambridge, an expert on the field, who had no role in this research. (1, 2)
5. Fluorescent puppy
Ruppy, a cloned beagle, is not a normal puppy like any other. She is the world’s first transgenic dog with a remarkable ability to glow. Ruppy, along with four other beagles, all produce an impressive fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light.
A team of scientists at Seoul National University in South Korea created these cute dogs by cloning special cells that express a red fluorescent gene produced by sea anemones.
The intention of these glowing puppies was to study human disease through this glowing mechanism. “The next step for us is to generate a true disease model,” CheMyong Ko of the University of Kentucky in Lexington said.
However, other scientists who use domestic dogs as a model to understand human diseases are skeptical about the use of transgenic dogs in regular research activities. (source)
Also read: 14 Fascinating Facts About the Human Body