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Making Dogs Who Glow in the Dark

“The glow can be substituted with genes that trigger fatal diseases.”

Tegon the puppy, created to glow in the dark. Photo by Seoul National University Hospital for Animals.

South Korean scientists have created a dog who glows green under fluorescent light.

The researchers explained that the ability to glow can be turned on or off by adding an antibiotic to the dog’s food.
The beagle, named Tegon, was born in 2009.

“The creation of Tegon opens new horizons since the gene injected to make the dog glow can be substituted with genes that trigger fatal human diseases,” said lead researcher Lee Byeong-chun.

He said Tegon was engineered using the same technology that the team used to make the world’s first cloned dog, Snuppy, in 2005.

“The entire body of the dog glows,” Lee said. “But to the naked eye, fluorescence cannot be seen without the presence of UV light and goggles.”

The genes injected to make the dog glow will, in due course, be substituted with genes that trigger fatal diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The stricken dogs will then have experiments performed on them, after which, if normal procedure is followed, they’ll be killed and dissected.

Lee said that dogs make good candidates for this kind of research because they have “good communication skills with humans, which enable them to have good response skills to direct orders. They are also easy to handle.”

Chemyong Jay Ko, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, told Discovery News that dogs “have long been used as one of the prime animal models in the field of medical research.” He added that genetically modified dogs and cats work better than mice.

What do you say: Should we be breeding dogs to glow in the dark? How about genetically modified dogs who will then contract Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s? Does the possibility that this would, in some way, contribute to finding a cure for these diseases justify the practice? How about the fact that the researchers use dogs because they’re so responsive to instructions from these people? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.