April 29, 2009—A South Korean research team claims to have cloned beagles with an implanted fluorescent gene. Some researchers say the technique could be applied to treatment of human diseases.
© 2009 National Geographic (AP)
South Korean scientists say they have engineered several beagles that glow red using cloning techniques that may one day help scientists study human diseases.
The first born, named "Ruppy" a combination of the words "ruby" and "puppy" and her siblings look like typical beagles under normal light conditions.
But they glow red under ultraviolet light, and the dogs' nails and abdomens look red even to the naked eye.
The head of the research team called them the world's first transgenic dogs carrying fluorescent genes, an achievement that goes beyond just the glowing novelty.
SOUNDBITE: (Korean) Lee Byeong-chun, Seoul National University "We have succeeded in cloning dogs with gene transformation by inserting a special gene in the cell. Even though we inserted a transgenic gene in them, if we insert a human disease related gene, we can use them as a great model to study diseases."
Professor Lee told the Associated Press that what is significant is not that the dogs express red colors, but that they planted genes in them.
The accomplishment was published on the web site of the journal "Genesis."
Lee says scientists in the U.S., Japan and in Europe previously have cloned fluorescent mice and pigs, but this would be the first time dogs with modified genes have been cloned successfully.
According to the Associate Press, several female beagles were born in December 2007 through cloning with a gene that produces a red fluorescent protein that makes them glow.
The glowing dogs show it is possible to successfully insert fluorescent genes into an egg cell. Professor Lee says it could lead to implanting other, non-fluorescent genes that could help scientists study specific diseases, such as Parkinsons.