Dolly, the first animal cloned from adult animal stem cells, is no longer alive to see the latest bovine specimens of human intervention... nine glow-in-the-dark lambs born to a ewe whose DNA received a shot of green florescent protein (GFP), the gene found in Aequorea victory jellyfish. Despite the undeniably great scientific breakthrough these lambs have accomplished, they, unlike Dolly, will probably not achieve her fame, for these bioluminescent sheep are being numbered one through nine, rather than named.
One of nine Uruguayan glow-in-the-dark sheep: image via en.mercopress.com
Indeed, the scientists at the Uruguayan Institute of Animal Reproduction who injected their mother's embryo with GFP only conducted this experiment to prove that it could be done, not to contribute directly to humankind. Or sheepdom, for that matter. They were simply testing a theory that a gene added to the DNA of a sheep, goat, or cow, would show up in the milk of the females.
This technology could later be used for pharmacological purposes, perhaps adding an insulin gene or a human growth hormone to bovine DNA - the ewe's milk being the source of new pharmaceuticals, more efficient and economical than today's treatments.
Florescent lambs: they look pretty normal in natural light: image via cromo.com.uy
The florescent lambs, now six months old, are said to be well-treated and loved, and they being closely followed by the scientists who created them. They lounge about in the fields just like other sheep. No word yet on whether they will be allowed to mate. Anyone see potential in florescent sheep?
sources: Merco Press, Institute of Animal Reproduction, Uruguay