When I was trying to find a topic to blog about, I saw a picture of a glow-in-the-dark cat, and I thought it was really cute. When I clicked on it, I found out that the article was on so much more than just cute glow-in-the-dark kittens. Recently, scientists have been genetically making cats able to glow in the dark so they can do studies on how to possibly stop AIDS.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, or AIDS in humans) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV, or AIDS in domestic cats) are a lot alike. For this reason, researchers have wanted to experiment with infected cats to help understand and fight AIDS. Scientists insert genes into the cats’ genomes to genetically modify them. They do this at the earliest stage of a cat’s development as possible so that the gene goes into all of the tissues.
The newest way of genetically modifying these cats it to modify the egg cells directly with the virus. They also inject a tiny amount of jellyfish genes to make the genes infected with the virus easily detectable. The kittens that went through the process were healthy and they also ended up glowing bright green under a blue light. The genes also were transmitted to their offspring.
Cats are still not 100% resistant to AIDS and there are still many studies that need to be performed on AIDS-infected cats. This study, however, is encouraging to the scientists working with these cats. They are still trying to come up with a way to protect cats from their AIDS virus, and eventually, they will hopefully be able to do the same for humans.
Do scientists have a lead on how to make cats completely resistant to AIDS? When will they be able to do these types of studies on humans?