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Biotech Science

Taiwan Breeds Transgenic, Fluorescent Green Pigs 261

Posted by Zonk
from the because-your-day-wasn't-distopean-enough dept.
ScentCone writes "Transgenic pigs (and other critters) are valuable research tools because of their utility in studying human diseases. Tracking changes in some developing tissues is going to be easier, say a Taiwanese team that has introduced fluorescent, green proteins into the breeding. Said one of the researchers: 'There are partially fluorescent green pigs elsewhere, but ours are the only ones in the world that are green from inside out. Even their hearts and internal organs are green.' Do you like green eggs and ham?"
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Taiwan Breeds Transgenic, Fluorescent Green Pigs

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  • by Robert1 (513674) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:55PM (#14455973) Homepage
    What this proves is that it is possible to induce protein induction on all major organs in animals. This same technique could in theory be used to express self-surface proteins on an animal that can be grow in 1-2 years. These organs could then be harvested and used for human transplants. By having self-proteins the body won't rejected the transplant and there would be a relatively cheap and practical supply of usable organs.
  • by haluness (219661) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:58PM (#14455997)
    ..such as Chasm City etc described a hybrid between pigs and humans, usually belonging to the lowest ranks of society.

    Who knows, maybe his description was just a few hundred years early :)
  • Re:Green pigs eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rei (128717) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:00PM (#14456016) Homepage
    How well would a pair of wings work for a human? We have dense bone structure. We have muscles in places where they'd add extra weight during flight. We don't have any adaptations to our sensory organs to make them work well during flight or at high altitudes. We don't have attachment points in our skeletons for the added musculature needed to operate the wings.

    Would chlorophyl-laden skin be useful for the average person? First off, I assume you mean chloroplast-laden skin, as chlorophyl doesn't usually float freely. Are you going to add vacuoles and all of the other support organelles? How much sunlight would they be able to use, given how much time most people spend indoors? If you spent more time out in the sun, you'd be increasing your risk for skin cancer. Would the additional energy costs to produce all of the organelles even get paid for by the amount of energy produced? Even if they did, they'd be dwarfed by the amount of energy that we, as humans, burn. Do you want your skin texture altered by the internal changes in the cells?

    Night vision? Well, yes, I'd imagine night vision improvements could occur without too radical of changes, so I'll second that one :)
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:01PM (#14456023) Journal
    The problem is that there aren't many natural predators for wild pigs.

    Since Hernando de Soto brought pigs to the New World, wild boars were used up through the colonies to destroy Native American crops. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to kill these pigs. Feral pigs are quite muscular and large ... proving quite the opponent to any respectable animal.

    Ever had to castrate a full grown boar? I have, and it's not easy, four grown men to hold it down and one to ... well, the football term might be "strip the ball."
  • Another use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Belseth (835595) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:10PM (#14456127)
    If the process could be adapted to work on developing cells and attach only to cancer cells it could help speed detection and make it easier to see cancerous cells during surgery. The obvious benefit would be with melonomia. If after a treatment cancerous moles would change color it'd make detection possible without biopsies and help see if it was spreading.
  • by SirLanse (625210) <swwg69.yahoo@com> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:15PM (#14456172)
    Turning pigs green. This is supposed to make me feel better about stem cell and cloning research. Are the wackos involved with this are to be trusted to preserve humanity? At what percent of remaing human genes does a creature retain its civil rights? Pigs can be eaten, kids cannot. Where is the line? How will you react when someone laughs at your line?
    Ask yourselves these questions.
  • Re:Green pigs eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:27PM (#14456317)
    Forget chloroplasts. The average person posting on Slashdot has not problem with feeding themselves, or their family. In fact, they are probably overweight. A more useful change would be to speed up their metabolism, or reduce the inclination to snack on fatty foods.

    Night vision would likely be a trade-off: increase night vision and you'll probably harm color. (Though there are a few things you could do that would increase both first. Reflective retina backs and larger pupil ranges come to mind.)

    You probably could increase strength/reflexes a bit fairly easily. If you don't mind problems in low-food situations. (Again, not that big a problem.)

    For some useful improvements, how about strengthing the back muscles? Or redesigning the backbone-ribcage entirely? It's not a particularly good design for an upright being.
  • by sunwukong (412560) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:57PM (#14456642)
    I've been on a hobby farm where there were a couple of tame sows -- I'm surprised that even four men could hold down an irate, full grown boar. No tranquilizer?
  • Re:Green pigs eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ePhil_One (634771) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @03:03PM (#14456685) Journal
    A more useful change would be to speed up their metabolism, or reduce the inclination to snack on fatty foods.

    Really no need to speed up the metabolism (mmm, fever). All you need to do is short out the fat storage mechanism, so that excess blood sugars are dumped into the urine instead of stored away. A million years of evolution through feast and famine cycles favored humans with efficient metabolisms that maximized the amount of energy they could store as fat put us where we are, the last 50 have favored those genetic freaks who can eat whatever they want and never store anything as fat.

    Of course, it will be better for the race in general if its a hormone that can be eliminated during times of extended stress, say the seige of Leningrad or the Holocaust, or perhaps an enzyme that chemically breaks the blood sugar down to an safe waste product that the kidneys can safely remove.

  • Pics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @03:05PM (#14456715) Homepage
    This article [bbc.co.uk] from the BBC has pictures.

    They appear to glow in the dark!
  • by The Fun Guy (21791) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @03:58PM (#14457333) Homepage Journal
    Imagine that you are a biotech company, and you've successfully created a line of engineered pigs. Maybe they are suitable for organ transplantation into humans, maybe they eat lawyers and sh*t nickles... they're really valuable for whatever reason. How do you keep somebody from just hijacking a shipment of your WonderPigs(tm) and claiming they invented an unrelated line of pigs that do the same thing as yours?

    Easy! Create an artificial gene that makes a do-nothing protein with a novel, specific, unique sequence that you select. Insert that gene along with the action gene cluster (EatLawyer + ShtNickles) and the marker gene (Green Fluorescent Protein). Then, everytime the pig's cells express the action genes, they also express the marker (GFP) and your non-obvious marker protein.

    When their SuperPigs(tm) hit the marketplace two years after your WonderPigs(tm), you just take a tissue sample and look for the telltale protein. Even if they silcenced the GFP and replaced it with Red, Yellow or Magenta, they wouldn't know to look for your hidden gene. You could even set it up so that it's only expressed under certain conditions, like an Easter Egg. That particular proetin sequence isn't found in nature, so if it's there, this must be a pirated pig.

    It's like the funny pictures that chip manufacturers hide on processing chips [fsu.edu]... copy this layout and we'll know where to look for our signature.
  • Re:Green pigs eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @06:10PM (#14458607) Journal
    You could just design eyes intelligently, like our Intelligent Designer didn't do for us but did for octopi, [catalase.com], and put the rods and cones on the FRONT of the eye instead of making the photons go through the nerve layers and the physical support layers before getting to the optic nerves. Funny how the Intelligent Designer did our eyes just like all the other vertebrates, which is to say: stupidly.

    The backbone makes a lot of sense in four-legged animals, but not so much in upright ones. Same with the intestinal mesentary. They could stand some redesign.

    I'd like to see animals with the ability to break down cellulose, so we could digest grass in case of starvation. (Yes, like cattle do, but they rely on massive populations of intestinal microflora to do the work for them.)

    It'd also be nice if we could convert two carbon units to three carbon units and regenerate sugars from fats. If we could sustain our glycogen stores by burning triglycerides, it'd be impressive both from what we could do (and for how long) AND how much skinnier people could be. It'd also increase metabolic efficiency, though, so people could gain more weight on the same amount of food: maybe not so great.

    While I'm dreaming, being able to control our cholesterol reuptake in the lower intestine could help with heart disease. It'd be cool to be able to change sexes, like some fish and frogs can. It'd be cool to regenerate body parts, like starfish do. It'd be cool to have an interface so I could stick a Tagalog thumbdrive in before flying to Manila. And immortality, and pyrokinesis, and...
  • Re:strengh (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:16PM (#14459193)
    I'd have read your post but your use of (...) at the end of near every sentence is way too damn distracting and annoying. Maybe nobody else told you about this because they didn't have the heart to. I'm asking you nicely: please stop.

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