Genetic scientists from the U.S. and Japan have created green glowing cats as part of their work against AIDS, Sky News reports.
More than 90,000 people are living with HIV in the United Kingdom and more are infected every year. Many are undiagnosed, and the figures are on the rise in younger people.
The team from the U.S and Japan, working out of the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., used a virus to insert a gene that resists AIDS into the egg cells of cats. The eggs were implanted in a surrogate mother cat that gave birth to litter.
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) causes AIDS in cats in a similar manner as HIV causes the disease in humans. The study inserted genes into cats that fight off the disease and can be passed on from mother to kittens, effectively wiping out the disease for future generations - which is in part of where the glowing comes from.
"One of the best things about this biomedical research is that it is aimed at benefiting both human and feline health," said Dr. Eric Poeschla, Mayo molecular biologist and leader of the international study. "It can help cats as much as people."
The antiviral gene comes from a rhesus macaque monkey, and produces a protein called a restriction factor that can resist AIDS-causing viruses affecting other animals.
Sky News reports that the purpose of the study was to find out if a natural protein that prevents macaques from developing AIDS can do the same in cats. The jellyfish gene was inserted into tabby cats which then gave birth to luminous kittens. The cats have been engineered using jellyfish DNA to reproduce the restriction factors.