World's First Transgenic Puppy Glows Red

April 28, 2009 | By Zootoo Pet News Staff | Category: Strange But True | 162 comments
Tags: health & wellness, strange but true, dogs, cats

A team of South Korean scientists have successfully created the world's first transgenic puppy, which glows red. (ZT Pet News Photo courtesy of BeyongChun Lee)

NEW YORK -- The puppy looks like a normal, blissfully resting young dog -- that is, until the lights are turned off.

Then she shines a fluorescent red glow, living up to her name, Ruppy -- short for Ruby Puppy. She's the world's first transgenic dog, cloned by a team of scientists at the Seoul National University in South Korea.

The same team, led by Beyong-Chun Lee and Woo Suk Hwang, also created the world's first cloned dog, Snuppy, in 2005.

In order to produce Ruppy, scientists took dog fibroblast cell and inserted a fluorescent protein, which glows red under ultraviolet light, into it. Then, they transferred the fribroblast's nucleus to another dog's egg cell, with its own nucleus removed.

Later, 340 like embryos were implanted into 20 surrogate mothers; the transplant resulted in seven pregnancies, and in the end, four healthy puppies.

Scientists say this method could allow them to effectively target and eradicate certain diseases in canines and humans alike. Dogs, for instance, already provide scientists with further understanding of narcolepsy, various cancers and blindness.

"The next step is for us to generate a true disease model," team member CheMyong Ko told NewScientist.com.

In October 2008, the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans completed a similar experiment on a 6-month-old orange tabby. The kitten, named Mr. Green Genes, glowed an iridescent green. Comparable methods were used to create the reportedly harmless effect.

"It is a step," Betty Dresser, senior vice president of the Institute, previously told ZT Pet News. "It is a step in the direction of them [scientists] being able to introduce more genes that are non-disease producing and remove genes that are disease producing."

No word on if Ruppy appears aware of her potential to shine, but in the fall, Mr. Green Genes remained oblivious to his glow.

"He's a very nice cat, a very gentle cat. We took him on The Today Show and he did very well. He hardly said a word," Dresser said.

While some scientists expressed support of such experiments, others seemed more doubtful of the methods.

"I think these dogs will be a very useful model for our research," Stanford University geneticist Greg Barsh reportedly said. He said creating as transgenic dog is "an important accomplishment."

But Nathan Sutter, a genecist at Cornell University, said "transgenesis is laborious, expensive an slow."

"It's [the method] not on my horizon as a dog geneticist at all," he said.

NewScientist.com, USA Today and ZT Pet News reporter Amy Lieberman contributed to this report.

Comments (144)

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Nicole F.
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Nicole F.
5 years ago

This is just another example of needless animal testing. I do not believe cloning your pets (or anything else for that matter) is a valid area of research. Why do they need to make puppies, kittens or any other sentient being glow different colors? Is that really necessary? There has got to be another way to accomplish whatever it is they are trying to research without making puppies and kittens glow. If the science they are trying to devolop is meant for humans, why not just start turning people different colors. There is no real reason for animal testing. It costs twice as much because after animal trials, you then need human trials. Why not just skip animal testing and just test on the intended subjects - humans? Besides, animals metabolize drugs, chemicals, etc. differently than we do. Their results aren't a good enough indication of how a human will react. I am very disappointed in this article. I think it is disgraceful.

Good Point | Reply ›

Erica M.
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Erica M.
5 years ago

Many cruel and pointless things are done to animals in experiments, and I am concerned about the ethical questions we will be faced with as scientists continue their work in genetics. However, the puppies may not be suffering. If fact, with so much media attention on this research, these may be the best treated lab animals you are going to find. I am not suggesting being a lab animal is ideal. It is not the best life for a dog by any means. However, there is "not ideal but justifiable" and there is "inhumane and unacceptable." The two states are not the same. I would like to know specifically what we hope to gain. Will this ultimately lead to cures to horrible conditions? Will we cure children of genetic problems and save them a lifetime of suffering? I do not think this is a simple issue to consider. The value of the goals, the likelihood of reaching those goals, and the means used to reach those goals must be weighed carefully.

Good Point | Reply ›

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