COED Presents: Fun with Genetics!

The next level of genetic engineering is upon us. In a not-so-groundbreaking anouncement, researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Boston bred zebrafish with transparent bodies in a bid to better understand how diseases spread. Zebrafish are genetically similar to humans in many ways. Scientists hope the see-through fish will help them identify what triggers certain cancers to metastasize.

The transparent fish, described in the Feb. 7 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell, are allowing researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston to directly view fish’s internal organs and observe processes such as tumor growth in real-time in living organisms.

Zebrafish are genetically similar to humans in many ways and serve as good models for human biology and disease. Traditionally, researchers have relied on information collected after the diseased animal died to infer anything about human ailments. But for rapidly changing processes such as cancer, this snapshot method is bound to miss something. “It’s like taking a photograph when you need a video,” said White, also an instructor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

As everyone expected, almost every conservative dipshit in the world started spewing their own ignorant BS about how this is playing God, blahblahblah. Everyone said the same thing when airtravel was growing field. Though I am not necessarily comparing genetic engineering to flight, there is a relative parallel to the outpour of public protest from a vocal minority of citizens. If messing with the genetic code of fish, monkeys, dogs, or cats will help keep my parents or children from dying of cancer – Good-Bye Lassie, I will miss you!

All this talk of fixing God’s horrible mistakes made me think – what are some of the other hot genetic engineering feats of the recent past:

5. Chinese scientists go Hogging

Scientists in China said two of 11 piglets born to a cloned sow whose genes were altered to make it glow green under ultraviolet light have inherited the trait from their mother. Researchers hope the technology behind the colorful experiment could help scientists engineer animals that produce human organs for transplant.

4. Can your hear me Mousey!?

In 1997, a plastic surgery expert in Shanghai successfully reproduced a human ear on the body of a white mouse. The feat was accomplished by using human cells to culture cartilage in the shape of the ear and then inseminating it into the body of the mouse. It took six weeks for the ear to fully develop.

3. Scottish Sheep-Lovin’

In 1996, researchers at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, Scotland, introduced the world’s first cloned mammals. The Welsh mountain sheep were grown from embryos in a laboratory and fused with an empty sheep egg. They are identical to each other and to the animal from which the cells were taken, who keepers affectionately called “Dolly.”

2. Koreans invent Glow-in-the-Dark Pussy

Scientists in South Korea have cloned cats, one of which is seen at left, possessing a red fluorescent protein that makes the animal glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet rays. The Gyeongsang National University hopes that the research will help develop cures for human genetic diseases.

1. No really…I have no daddy…REALLY

Kaguya the mouse might look like your average rodent, but she’s not. Kaguya is the daughter of two female mice and is the first living mammal created from same sex parents in a lab. Scientists at the Tokyo University of Agriculture named her after a Japanese fairy tale character who was born in a bamboo stump.

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