A technique developed by reproductive scientists from the University of Hawaii medical school helped scientists create ten piglets that glow green under black fluorescent lights.
Scientists at the South China Agricultural University injected a fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA into pig embryos to create the glowing pigs.
The green color shows that the fluorescent genetic material injected into the pig embryos was incorporated into the animal’s natural make-up.
"It’s just a marker to show that we can take a gene that was not originally present in the animal and now exists in it," said Dr. Stefan Moisyadi, a UH Manoa bioscientist with the Institute for Biological Research.
The UH Manoa technique helped quadruple the success rate for the fluorescent protein to be incorporated into the pig DNA.
This technique was also used to produce the world’s first "glowing green rabbits" in Turkey earlier this year. Turkey is expected to announce results of similar research involving sheep next year.
Moisyadi said the animals are not affected by the fluorescent protein and will have the same life span as other pigs.
The goal of the research is to introduce beneficial genes into larger animals to create less costly and more efficient medicines.
"[For] patients who suffer from hemophilia and they need the blood-clotting enzymes in their blood, we can make those enzymes a lot cheaper in animals rather than a factory that will cost millions of dollars to build," Moisyadi said.
Drs. Zhenfang Wu, a UH Manoa graduate, and Zicong Li of the South China Agricultural University submitted the results of the research to the Biology of Reproduction journal. Dr. Johann Urschitz, a UH Manoa assistant research professor also contributed to the paper.
The Institute for Biogenesis Research at the John A. Burns School of Medicine was founded by emeritus professor Ryuzo Yanagimachi, who produced the world’s first cloned mouse and produced transgenic mice that also glowed green using the jellyfish genes.