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South Korean scientists clone four glow-in-the-dark beagles

April 28, 2009 |  7:11 pm

Beagles

What to give a beagle owner who has everything? How about a cloned beagle that glows in the dark?

South Korean scientists have created such an animal via a cloning technique that they hope will be able to cure diseases in the future. Sadly, that sort of creativity wasn't utilized when the team got around to naming the four-legged freaks, the Associated Press reports.

The four dogs, all named "Ruppy" — a combination of the words "ruby" and "puppy" — look like typical beagles by daylight.

But they glow red under ultraviolet light, and the dogs' nails and abdomens, which have thin skins, look red even to the naked eye.

Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team, called them the world's first transgenic dogs carrying fluorescent genes, an achievement that goes beyond just the glowing novelty.

"What's significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that we planted genes into them," Lee told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

More pictures and even video of the glow-in-the-dark dogs after the jump.

Beagles

Fluorescent animals are nothing new thanks to cloning. Over the years, scientists in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. have cloned mice and pigs. Dr. Lee, however, said that this was the first time that glow-in-the-dark dogs were successfully created, and a South Korean scientist who manufactured the first glowing cat backed up Lee's claim.

Although the Ruppies might be cute, they were created for serious reasons, Dr. Lee told the AP:

The glowing dogs show that it is possible to successfully insert genes with a specific trait, which could lead to implanting other, non-fluorescent genes that could help treat specific diseases, Lee said.

The scientist said his team has started to implant human disease-related genes in the course of dog cloning, saying that will help them find new treatments for genetic diseases such as Parkinson's.

-- Tony Pierce

Photos:  The world's first transgenic female beagle dogs carry fluorescent genes that make the canines--all named Ruppy--glow red.

Credit: Seoul National University

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