Frankenstein may be a work of fiction, but these experiments are real.
For decades, scientists have been tweaking the genes of animals to give them desirable (and sometimes just plain bizarre) traits. This is possible thanks to gene editing techniques that make it possible to easily cut and paste DNA.
Here are some of the weird and wacky experiments researchers have done on animals over the years. Could humans be next?
And in 2002, scientists at Caltech created glow-in-the-dark mice by injecting single-celled mouse embryos with a virus that contained a jellyfish gene for green fluorescence. Researchers have since created glow-in-the-dark fish, cats, and other animals.
Image source: Ingrid Moen, Charlotte Jevne, Jian Wang, Karl-Henning Kalland, Martha Chekenya, Lars A Akslen, Linda Sleire, Per Ø Enger, Rolf K Reed, Anne M Øyan and Linda EB Stuhr: Gene expression in tumour cells and stroma in dsRed 4T1 tumours in eGFP-expressing mice with and without enhanced oxygenation. In: BMC Cancer. 2012, 12:21. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-21
In 2012, scientists at the University of Wyoming engineered goats to produce a protein in spider silk in their milk. Silk is useful for a variety of applications in materials science and medicine, and it's hard to get spiders to make enough of it.
And soon, we could be eating genetically modified animals. The AquAdvantage(R) Salmon, created by a company called AquaBounty Technologies, contains a gene from the Chinook salmon that makes it grow much faster. The salmon is currently under review by the FDA.
In the last few years, researchers have found ways to edit genes much more easily and accurately. Earlier this year, South Korean scientists used a gene editing technology called a TALEN to tweak the genes in pigs to make them produce more muscle, Nature News reported.
We might even start to have genetically modified pets. Scientists in China used a new genome editing technique called CRISPR/Cas9 to modify the genes of Bama pigs to create tiny 'micropigs' which they plan to sell commercially. The feat stirs up a larger debate over how this powerful method should be used.
But scientists aren't the only ones doing these experiments. In 2000, an artist named Eduardo Kac created a glow-in-the-dark bunny, known as the 'GFP bunny,' an albino rabbit that fluoresced under blue light.
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