A glowing beagle is definitely on the list of things we never expected to see.
But South Korean scientists seem to have made it a reality in hopes of finding cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, according to Reuters. While genetically engineering a puppy to glow is controversial to say the least, the project aims to help researchers identify possible side-effects of certain treatments that could occur in humans.
Tegon, as the pup is called, may hold the key to many human diseases, as the glow-in-the-dark property can be controlled with the addition of an antibiotic called doxycycline.
ByeongChun Lee, a co-author of the paper on Tegon that will appear in the journal Genesis, told Discovery News that the gene triggers a real glow under UV light. Without UV light, Lee told Discovery that you can still see a slightly yellow glow in the dog's skin.
The practical application of the ability to make the dog glow helps to identify possible complications from diseases, without harming the dog.
From Discovery News:
Lee said the genes injected to make the dog glow could be substituted with genes that trigger fatal diseases. He and his team would then be able to chart the course of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and more, better understanding how such diseases develop.
The process behind creating the dog was also rather astonishing. According to Care2, Tegon was created through a multi-step cloning process. A process called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer was used to generate an embryo with the modified DNA (a dog's combined with a green fluorescent gene from a sea anemone). Finally, the embryo was implanted in a surrogate beagle mother. View a photo of Tegon here.
In 2009, the Associated Press reported that South Korean scientists said they had engineered four beagles that glowed red, and called them "the world's first transgenic dogs carrying fluorescent genes."
Glow sticks now feel so 1997.