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Biotech Science

Has Anyone Seen My Rabbit? 92

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the popular-at-raves dept.
New submitter geoskd writes "Scientists at the university of Hawaii have created glow in the dark rabbits. Where can I get my hands on one of these critters? It would drive the cats nuts! These guys are missing a bet, they could sell these things for big bucks and use the money to further fund their research. This is the perfect gift for the geek who has "everything"." The technique used is similar to the glow in the dark cats bred a couple of years ago. The fluorescence isn't the end goal of course; it just happens to be a very obvious marker that their genetic manipulation technique works. According to the researchers, "the final goal is to develop animals that act as barrier reactives to produce beneficial molecules in their milk that can be cheaply extracted, especially in countries that can not afford big pharma plants that make drugs, that usually cost $1bn to build, and be able to produce their own protein-based medication in animals."
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Has Anyone Seen My Rabbit?

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  • by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @12:48PM (#44565969)

    Why rabbits? These aren't the first people to do this. Another group modified rabbits to produce human C1 inhibitor, but they only get 120 mL of milk per day. [nationalgeographic.com] Is this economical from a perspective of input feed to output milk?

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @12:57PM (#44566067) Homepage Journal

      At a guess, it's that rabbits make good experimental subjects when you want to work on mammals larger than mice and rats, because they're famous for breeding like ... um ... rabbits.

    • by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @01:00PM (#44566101) Homepage Journal

      Rabbits reach sexual maturity in 4 months. Gestation is one month That means you can see the results of two, almost three generations of genetic manipulation in a year's study.
       
      Cows, on the other hand take 10 months for gestation + age of safe breeding. If you're going to do genetic research, choosing the one that "multiplies like rabbits" is generally the way to go in a laboratory setting.

    • by cusco (717999)
      Apparently the only real 'news' is that they're working with a new genetic manipulation technique which should be easier to reproduce. Only 30 percent of the offspring were actually implanted with the gene, so I'm not sure whether that's actually considered a "success" or not.
    • by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @01:04PM (#44566143)

      Why rabbits?

      How many dairy cows could you fit into the same space?

      Makes sense to experiment on the rabbits first. You'll need a small ranch to start experimenting on cows.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      You know, I think Sheldon's glow in the dark fish night lights would sell like hot cakes.

    • by Kingkaid (2751527)

      Why rabbits? These aren't the first people to do this. Another group modified rabbits to produce human C1 inhibitor, but they only get 120 mL of milk per day. [nationalgeographic.com] Is this economical from a perspective of input feed to output milk?

      As someone that worked in a lab before, rabbits are great because: They make enough milk, can be easily handled, studied, etc. and frankly we know a LOT about their genetic makeup. Oh - and it is easier to do egg manipulations and implantations on these creatures. Making changes in genes is a pain in the butt. Some animals are better suited for specific jobs. We used to get insulin from pigs since it was the best we could do at that time. We got better and now harvest a lot of it from insects.

      • Eeeeewww :-) Plus, rabbits don't bite, only scratch And, they multiply like, um, rabbits
        • by Cyko_01 (1092499)
          I have had several pet rabbits and yes, they most certainly do bite...and can draw blood if they want to
    • It's easier just to use the juicer.

      • You could build something that consumed carrots and autodetected when a rabbit entered, then fired up the juicer. You'd need some kind of refridgeration source for the rabjuice, either ice or dry ice replaced daily or some power supply. Then you would not need to press a button only refill carrots weekly and harvest rabjuice at same time, if refridgerated. (Or visit the station more frequently for fresher rabjuice.) .... cf Simpson's rat-milk episode
    • Well you also get meat for the grad students and you can sell the fur. When I was in grad school I tried to interest the PI in lobster research.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Silly rabbit, milk is for kids!

    • by zztong (36596)

      Yes! Exactly! Glow in the dark cows -- go big or go home!

    • by pepty (1976012)
      I also doubt pharma would build a $1bn plant to produce a biological product if it was cheaper to produce the product in mammals. As it is, production of antibodies as drugs is shifting from giant cell culture vats (the $1bn plant) to using multiple much smaller disposable bioreactors. This way a single incident of contamination, genetic drift, or what have you doesn't wipe out all of your production for a month.
  • by Nexus7 (2919) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @12:50PM (#44565995)

    The drugs are expensive because of the patents on them that allow big pharma to monopolize them. In this case, the people who develop the genes will then be poached by big pharma, or will form their own company, or the university will sell the patents to an IP shop, which will leave us exactly where we were before. But we will have glowing rabbits.

    So spare me the homilies about poor people and drugs, and just say "shiny glowing rabbits!!! FTW!!!"

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @01:03PM (#44566131) Homepage Journal

      Or the countries that need cheap drugs the most will say "screw your IP law" and start breeding their own drug-producing rabbits (or whatever) regardless of what the WTO and similar organizations have to say. This kind of thing has already happened with more conventional methods of drug production [wikipedia.org] and there was a lot of kerfluffle but nobody went to war over it. Once any useful application of the laws of nature is out there, people will make use of it if they perceive doing so to be in their interests.

    • Actually it's so expensive because their budgets are so huge because their income is so huge because there is no supply and demand. There's more like supply and I don't give a damn, it's insurance money.
      • Let's not forget the airwaves full of commercials for lawyers with phone numbers like 1-800-BAD-DRUG trolling for "clients". Tort law in this (US) country is what allows these parasites to go hunting for the deep pockets, and why the big-pharma product-liability insurance rates are so high.

        Remember, you might be entitled to substantial compensation.
        • by afidel (530433)

          Torts are a rounding error in the budgets of big pharma, hell even actual research is barely a blip, the development part of R&D is where all the money is spent, advertising and wining and dining doctors is where they focus their resources.

    • by lgw (121541)

      New drugs are fundamentally expensive because the research costs are huge. Patents, much as we like to rant about them on /., are a distraction here.

      However, there are plenty of old drugs, most of modern medicine really, long out of any patent, that are needed in developing nations. You first have to live long enough before you care whether Viagra is still covered by a patent.

      We get excited by new cures, but many people can't depend on all the boring, long-known remedies being available.

    • by westlake (615356)

      The drugs are expensive because of the patents on them that allow big pharma to monopolize them.

      It's a long road from the research lab to clinical testing on humans to production and distribution of a new drug on a global scale --- and it takes time, money, manpower, organization and material resources to make that happen.

      Without any certainty that major problems won't be exposed further on.

    • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @03:46PM (#44567821)

      If only it were so easy.
      TFS said:
      "the final goal is to develop animals that act as barrier reactives to produce beneficial molecules in their milk that can be cheaply extracted, especially in countries that can not afford big pharma plants that make drugs, that usually cost $1bn to build"

      That BILLION dollars to build a plant meeting FDA style standards might have something to do with the cost. Figure one plant produces medicine for what, maybe a million people who need the drug(s) it produces? That would be $1 billion / 1 million = $1,000 / person just to build the thing. If you had 10 million people buying the medicine and one plant could produce enough for 10 million people, that's $100 / customer.

      Add to that, 90% of medications don't make it through all of the trials and testing and get FDA approved. The one that gets approved needs to cover the cost of the nine that didn't make it. What does that R&D cost? Here are the numbers from all of the big pharma companies (All numbers are in millions, so 4,000 means $4 billion)/;
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2012/02/10/the-truly-staggering-cost-of-inventing-new-drugs/ [forbes.com]

      So I'm curious, how do you plan on covering the four or five billion dollar cost of developing a drug, if not buy patenting and selling it? Dollar cost COULD be drastically reduced by reducing safety regulations. Obviously that's trading for human cost, which sounds scary. On the other hand, consider that if the cost was cut by 30%, more people could get the medicine they need. That's the human cost of regulations that make it difficult to get medicine approved - when it costs $5 billion to make a new medicine, people suffer and die from things less expensive medicine could cure. Reducing regulations somewhat might very well reduce a lot of suffering. It's a hard problem. It sure would be nice if there was an easy answer, if you could just call the people who make new medicines evil and that would magically cause medicine to be developed, tested, and produced at no cost.

  • Buttercup was it? BlueBell something like that

  • Don't worry, you'll get your rabbit soon enough once they start reproducing...
  • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @12:52PM (#44566021)

    FTFS: "glow in the dark cats"

    "Captain Peacock, have you seen my pussy?"

    --
    BMO

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://bbcsherlockpickuplines.tumblr.com/post/29594462174/you-light-up-my-life-like-a-baskerville-rabbit

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@nOSPam.lynx.bc.ca> on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @01:01PM (#44566109) Journal

    Glowing in the dark would, I imagine, constitute a significant anti-survival trait for a creature such as this... If this trait gets passed on, could the technique be used to bring the rabbit population under control within a few dozen generations in areas where rabbits are nothing more than profound pests?

    Or do you think would it reduce their chances of survival so low that they wouldn't even get to breed?

    • by Kahlandad (1999936) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @01:05PM (#44566159)

      They aren't phosphorescent (what most people consider to be 'glow in the dark'), they are fluorescent. They only glow under UV (black light) exposure.

      • But they might still glow to sharp eyed predators? Maybe?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        White rabbits already glow under black light.

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @01:08PM (#44566185) Homepage Journal

      Until owls start carrying UV flashlights, the fluorescent rabbits are probably safe.

      If birds of prey start using electronics, we may have bigger problems on our hands.

    • by Takahashi (409381)

      Other respondents to this comment pointed out that these are fluorescent (ie need an excitation light source) not "glowing".

      But another problem with this idea is that, in a population neutral alleles maintain their frequency (though can drift randomly) and deleterious alleles will decline in frequency. In other words, you'd have to release a LOT of rabbits before the glowing allele would be common enough to have an effect on average fitness and that allele would be unstable in the population. Unless you d

  • What's next? Wolvogs?
  • When a girl asks me if I have seen her Rabbit [adamevetoys.com], I know it's not going well.

  • I'm sorry. I'll just take my things and be going.
  • by vmxeo (173325) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @02:15PM (#44566915) Homepage Journal

    Sherlock Holmes: Bluebell, John! I've got Bluebell, the case of the vanishing glow-in-the-dark rabbit. NATO's in an uproar.

    (For the uninformed: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1942613/quotes?ref_=tttrv_sa_3 [imdb.com])

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @02:31PM (#44567101)
    Just have to point out, that the jellyfish protein they're talking about is green fluorescent protein (GFP). It fluoresces. This is not glow in the dark. You shine a blue light on GFP, it sends some of it back as green light. The only way it "glows" is if you filter out the blue excitation light you're shining on it. The light shining on the rabbits is actually quite intense compared to the fluorescent light you get back.

    At 0:48, they switch from a normal view of the bunnies to a the fluorescence. The reason it's a cut and not just flipping off the lights is that they put a green filter over the camera and set up a bright blue light shining on the bunnies. The green filter filters out the blue light but not the green light from the rabbits. You can see the one rabbit dims for a split second, that's because the beam of blue excitation light moves for a second. Turn off the blue light and those rabbits would go dark along with everything else. I suppose they'd glow for a very short time longer than anything else due to the fluorescence taking slightly longer, but it would be far too fast for you to perceive.

    Here's an example of some GFP sample on the microscope [mecanusa.com]. Notice the bright blue light? That's what the article is calling "dark." (The orange filter in that example isn't the one you'd use to see fluorescence, it's what you'd use to keep you from blinding yourself by the blue light while moving the sample around.)
    • So the rabbits and cats should be wearing UV shades. BTW, this will mess with their vision (by introducing visible light into their retinae) during fluorescence. We look forward to the rabbits escaping and their progeny's distribution monitored via fluorescent owl-pellets. Good science.
  • It has several variable speeds and vibrating patterns. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
  • TFA is shit. GFP is just a marker that is used to do the real science. What's the real science? Who knows. TFA doesn't say anything comprehensible on the matter. Crappy science reporting if ever I saw it. Why's this even on Slashdot? Scientists have been creating GFP animals for years now.
  • Who knew that PG Wodehouse was a science fiction writer!

  • ...axlotl tanks.
  • my bowel movements were disturbing
  • Growing marijuana and use that as medicine, like GOD intended. Screw big pharma, their rubber stamping FDA and the AMA who swallow all of their Bovine scatology hook, line and sinker.

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