South Koreans aren’t noted for their love of dogs (at least not in way we would interpret ‘love’) and some South Korean scientists have further pushed the boundaries on how we perceive their relationship with their canines by genetically modifying some puppies to glow in the dark.
You might be wondering what use is a puppy that glows in the dark, other than perhaps the obvious novelty factor, or the ease of finding them if you let them off the lead at night. Well, the scientists who created these ‘glowing dogs’ claim that they’ll be invaluable in helping to cure diseases, as well as being handy novelty night-lights.
The glowing dogs are all clones, and are all named Ruppy (which has very cleverly been made by combining the words ruby and, yes you guessed it, puppy). The dogs are beagles and look fairly normal in daylight, but when darkness falls and the ultraviolet light comes out, they glow red.
Lee Byeong-chun headed up the research into creating the glowing clones. He’s a professor at the Seoul National University, and he stated:
What’s significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colours but that we planted genes into them.
Glowing animals have been all the rage in recent years, with scientists creating glowing pigs and mice in the past. This South Korean experiment represents the first time that dogs have been made to glow in the dark.
The cloned dogs were made by using skin cells from a beagle, which were then inserted with fluorescent genes and implanted into eggs. The eggs were then placed in the womb of the mother. The mother gave birth to six glow in the dark beagles in 2007, but two of the puppies died shortly after.
Far from just producing glowing dogs, what the experiment has shown is that cells can be implanted with specific traits, which can then be used to produce cures for diseases.
Unfortunately, as well as the ‘glowing gene’ the scientists are also experimenting with human diseases and dogs, which is something that won’t win them any favours in the western world, even if they do manage to find a cure for Parkinson’s, as they are hoping.
How do you feel about dogs being used in this way? Do you consider this to be cruel, or a necessary step towards a scientific breakthrough?