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Friday, July 29, 2011

First there was the glow-in-the-dark cat... Now meet Tagon, the world's first glowing dog

By Daily Mail Reporter

Before and after: Tagon's paw is like any other dog's in daylight, but glows bright green under ultraviolet light when she is given a special antibiotic

By day, Tagon looks like any other beagle.

But under the cover of darkness, she can glow an eerie green.

South Korean scientists say they have created a fluorescent dog using a cloning technique that could help find cures for human diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

The breakthrough comes three years after U.S. boffins made a glow-in-the-dark cat by modifying its DNA, also in the hope of treating a range of conditions.

Tagon, who was born in 2009, was found to beam bright green under ultraviolet light if given a doxycycline antibiotic.

Researchers from Seoul National University (SNU)'s College of Veterinary Medicine, who completed the two-year test, said the ability to glow can be turned on or off by adding a drug to the dog's food.

Glowing with pride: Tagon feeding her puppies at Seoul National University's College of Veterinary Medicine, where she is helping with vital research

Lead researcher Lee Byeong-chun said: 'The creation of Tagon opens new horizons since the gene injected to make the dog glow can be substituted with genes that trigger fatal human diseases.'

He said the dog was created using the somatic cell nuclear transfer technology that the university team used to make the world's first cloned dog, Snuppy, in 2005.

Glowing ginger tom: Mr Green Genes of New Orleans was created by US scientists in 2008 to help find cures for diseases like cystic fibrosis

The scientist said that because there are 268 illnesses that humans and dogs have in common, creating dogs that artificially show such symptoms could aid treatment methods for diseases that afflict humans.

The latest discovery published in Genesis, an international journal, took four years of research costing roughly 3.2 billion won ($3 million) to make the dog and conduct the necessary verification tests, Yonhap news agency said.

In 2008, scientists created Mr Green Genes of New Orleans - the country's first glowing ginger tom.

They adapted the six-month-old's DNA to see if a gene could be introduced harmlessly into an animal's genetic sequence.

The gene in question, known as green fluorescence protein, expressed itself in mucous membranes - causing his mouth and ears to radiate.

Because the fluorescence gene will go alongside the cystic fibrosis gene, it will make it easier for experts to spot the condition.



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