By Deborah Manog, UH Student Journalist
Grass is glowing green in Istanbul. “Cimen” means “Grass” in Turkish, and it is the name of Turkey’s first transgenic lamb. The glow-in-the-dark lamb was produced by scientists from Istanbul University in collaboration with the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa (UHM) medical school.
The project, led by Dr. Sema Birler, involved injecting three mother sheep with a fluorescent protein in a transgenesis technique that was developed by researchers at Hawai`i’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) .
The odds were low, with the birth of only five lambs in November 2013. However, one lucky lamb carried the “glowing gene,” and this week, it was introduced to the world.
JABSOM scientist Dr. Stefan Moisyadi said that transgenic sheep are more difficult to produce than other transgenic animals because sheep carry only one embryo or, he said, “twins at best.”
“As with pigs and rabbits, the aim is to use these animals as bioreactors to make valuable proteins in their milk,” said Dr. Moisyadi. In normal lighting, the animals look just like any other of their species. But when exposed to black light, transgenic animals shine a vivid shade of green.
Click HERE to see another video from a Turkish news service.
Last year, Turkish scientists collaborated with Moisyadi and the Institute for Biogenesis Research (IBR) at JABSOM to create vivid green bunnies. Then, using the same technique developed at UHM, scientists in Southern China bred 10 luminescent piglets.
The goal of the transgenetic research is to explore biological ways to create medicines for complex human diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. The future of medicine looks bright with the continued success in gene-based animal research.