Glow in the Dark Cats Are Craziest AIDS Breakthrough Yet

glowing catWhen you think of brilliant scientists attempting to figure out the cure for HIV/AIDS, you don't tend to think of cute little kittens, right? Especially not ones of the Halloween-ish variety that, err, glow in the dark? But that's exactly what may be the key to protecting animals and humans against the disease.

A Mayo Clinic team of physicians, virologists, veterinarians, and gene therapy researchers have been studying feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which causes AIDS in cats in a similar way that HIV causes the disease in humans. In their research, they've managed to insert an antiviral gene from monkeys into cats, which produces a protein called a restriction factor that can resist AIDS-causing viruses. Even better, they've shown that the gene can be passed on from mama to kitten, which, of course, could curb it from being spread to future generations. Amazing!!

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As for the glowing part? Researchers used a glowing gene taken from jellyfish that allows them to track the success of the gene transfer. They can actually see the results in the dark. They'll know the transfer worked if cats glow green or red. Hello, creepy Kitty!!

But as weird, creepy, or off-beat as this experiment sounds, it's pretty awesome that the team is actually making progress figuring out a way to prevent AIDS. Although there is certainly more work to be done, it sounds like these findings could eventually lead to some kind of HIV/AIDS vaccine!

Wow, how incredible would that be?! If that is what the future holds, I guess they'll just have to come up with another way to double-check that the gene transfer "takes" -- you know, being that I'm pretty sure most people would prefer not to glow in the dark.

What do you think about this research?

 

Image via Felinest/Flickr

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