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An unusually bright idea to stop one of the world’s deadliest diseases has seen scientists inject feline embryos with monkey and jellyfish genes, creating fluorescent green cats in a glowing world first.
Aimed at arresting the spread of HIV and FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), or AIDS in cats, scientists have inserted genes from the Rhesus monkey, which block the virus, into feline eggs before they are fertilised.
However, in order to track which cats were altered, scientists also inserted a protein gene from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria into the embyros, which makes the cats turn bright green when placed under a blue light.
Indeed, under such conditions, the claws, fur and whiskers of the now fully grown felines emit a green glow, creating the appearance of what could be described as a luminous disco pussy.
Interestingly, the scientists also mated several of the incandescent creatures, who gave birth to glowing green kittens, which AOL have described as “spooky looking moggies”.
However, while the jellyfish appear to have given scientists the green light, the disease resistant monkey gene proved rather tricky to insert. Thus collaborators from Japan were called in to help Dr Poeschla’s team, which ended up using a harmless virus to transmit the gene into the eggs.
Dr Eric Poeschla, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says the point of the experiment, rather than to breed generations of glowing, disease resistant cats, was to study the animals to develop treatments for HIV and FIV.
So far, the study is being hailed as a breakthrough in the research for AIDS, even though the experiment has only been trialled successfully on the animal’s cells, and not yet in the fully developed green pussies.
Not all organisations, however, see the research in such glowing terms. Kate Casmatti, from the Feline Liberationists Squad (FLS), has called the study a disgusting trip down egoism lane.
She says rather than breeding some kind of unsightly sea mutant, just so the cats can be recognised, why not knit them lovely little pink bonnets, or paint their claws in lavender nail polish?