The last few years have been big for scientists in the pursuit of a cure and vaccination for the AIDS virus. This important research has been making waves and headlines with every attempt and discovery. This time, however, the news about AIDS research has caught people’s eyes for an entirely different reason--kittens. Glowing kittens, to be exact.
These kittens are part of a study that explores a potential cure or vaccine for FIV, the feline equivalent of HIV. The information garnered from this research may be extremely helpful in aiding humans given the similarities of the viruses. According to The Guardian “U.S. researcher Eric Poeschla has produced three glowing GM cats by using a virus to carry a gene, called green fluorescent protein (GFP), into the eggs from which the animals eventually grew.” This protein comes from jellyfish and glows when exposed to certain frequencies of light. It helps scientists monitor the activity of the genes or cells in the cats.
The real meat of the findings, however, is that these genetically modified cats have become resistant to FIV. The glowing merely helps scientists track what they’ve done and how these kittens have become resistant--it does not affect the cats themselves. These adorable green research subjects may be the key to creating a vaccine. While it’s yet unknown if their resistance means help for human resistance, the discovery here has a lot of potential. The researchers, from the Mayo Clinic and Japan’s Yamaguchi University, will use this information in the hopes of combating feline and human AIDS.