In a new twist on a scientific development, glow in the dark cats have been developed. These cats have the capacity to help combat AIDS in cats and humans through their immunity to the virus. HIV causes AIDS in people and FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) leads to it in cats through a depletion of the body’s infection-fighting T-cells.
Given that there is already a protein that can prevent certain monkeys from developing AIDS, it was hoped that the study would prove that the same natural protein can also do this for cats, and thereafter, humans. The team of Mayo clinic experts who conducted the study (published in Nature Methods) worked alongside experts from Japan. They discovered a way of putting monkey versions of the protein into the cat genome through a process called gamete-targeted lentiviral transgenesis. This is basically a way of placing genes into feline eggs prior to sperm fertilization.
A gene for a rhesus macaque restriction was inserted which is said to be able to block FIV cell infection along with a jellyfish gene to enable tracking. The FIV is blocked by disabling the virus’ outer shield as it attempts to invade a cell. According to Mayo molecular biologist and leader of the international study, Eric Poeschla, M.D., “one of the best things about this biomedical research is that it is aimed at benefiting both human and feline health. It can help cats as much as people.”