Skip to Content

Fluorescent Cats to Help Fight AIDS

New technology to genetically engineer cats could lead to new treatment for feline AIDS.
September 12, 2011

A litter of glowing kittens, produced at the Mayo Clinic, could provide scientists with new methods for studying AIDS. Eric Poeschla and collaborators developed a highly efficient method for genetically engineering cats. They inserted genes—including a gene that glows green—into the eggs of domestic cats prior to fertilization and showed these genes were expressed throughout the body of the resulting animals. The fluorescent cats passed these genes onto their offspring, who also glowed.

A cat genetically engineered to glow green also carries a gene that blocks the virus that causes feline AIDS. Credit: Mayo Clinic

Previously, the only way to genetically engineer cats was through cloning, a highly inefficient process that often results in deformed animals.

Researchers say the technology could help them develop new treatments for both human and feline AIDS. In addition to the fluorescent gene, they added a gene from monkeys that blocks the virus that causes feline AIDS. Preliminary research suggests that infected animals with the gene had lower rates of virus replication in their cells. The research was published today in the journal Nature Methods

According to a press release from the Mayo Clinic;

This specific transgenesis (genome modification) approach will not be used directly for treating people with HIV or cats with FIV, but it will help medical and veterinary researchers understand how restriction factors can be used to advance gene therapy for AIDS caused by either virus.

Scientists have previously created a menagerie of transgenic animals, including rats, rabbits, pigs, cows, goats, dogs, and even monkeys.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI
Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI

The walls are closing in on Clearview AI

The controversial face recognition company was just fined $10 million for scraping UK faces from the web. That might not be the end of it.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.