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Flock of Sheep Genetically Engineered to Glow in the Dark

Update Date: Apr 30, 2013 03:27 PM EDT
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Researchers in Uruguay have bred nine sheep that are literally brilliant. According to recent reports, the sheep glow in the dark.

Fox News Latino reports that the sheep's embryos were genetically bred using a protein from an Aequorea jellyfish. As a result, when the sheep are exposed to a certain type of ultraviolet light, they glow a fluorescent green.

According to the Cleveland Leader, the sheep are healthy, well-fed and are well looked after. The sheep grow up no differently than their relatives who are not genetically engineered. That lack of difference is key to the feeling of happiness in sheep.

"We did not use a protein of medical interest or to help with a particular medicine because we wanted to fine tune the technique. We used the green protein because the colour is easily identifiable in the sheep's tissues," Alejo Menchaca, a veterinarian who has been working on the project for two years, said in a statement.

While the research may not seem warranted, scientists say that these genetically modified animals can help them better understand the inner workings of serious diseases like HIV and AIDS.

Menchaca says that he and like-minded researchers hope to use the technique to breed animals that can hold medicinal value. He and his team note that there are already animals in the world that produce proteins that hold pharmaceutical value, like insulin. Rosita, an Argentine cow, has been genetically engineered to produce human milk.

Interestingly, these sheep are not the first animals who have been bred to be glow in the dark. In fact, they join a long list of predecessors, including cats, scorpions and monkeys.

Unlike other famous genetically engineered animals, like Dolly the cloned sheep, this flock will hold closer to the traditions of scientific research; they receive no names, going only by numbers.

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