Cats That Glow Green

I’m against people dying their pets [See “Your Dog is Not a Canvas“], but here’s a very interesting exception.

Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a genome-based immunization strategy to fight feline AIDS and illuminate ways to combat human HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The goal is to create cats with intrinsic immunity to the feline AIDS virus.

Cat people are aware that FIV (commonly known as feline AIDS) is a risk for outdoor kitties, and that cats who contract the disease are often left to live out their days in cages in shelters. Some statistics:

HIV/AIDS has killed over 30 million people and left countless children orphaned, with no effective vaccine on the horizon. Less well known is that millions of cats also suffer and die from FIV/AIDS each year. Since the project concerns ways introduced genes can protect species against viruses, the knowledge and technology it produces might eventually assist conservation of wild feline species, all 36 of which are endangered.

I wonder where PETA stands on this? It’s usually easy to oppose animal testing because the cats, bunnies and rodents are being subjected to tests that hurt them while benefiting the cosmetics industry, for instance. In this case, the research aims to help both cats AND humans. I don’t know enough about the process, but the Mayo Clinic reports: “The cats with the protective genes are thriving and have produced kittens whose cells make the proteins, thus proving that the inserted genes remain active in successive generations.”

Oh and additionally:

The team inserted a gene for a rhesus macaque restriction factor known to block cell infection by FIV, as well as a jellyfish gene for tracking purposes. The latter makes the offspring cats glow green.


[via BoingBoing]