29 May 2009

GFP Monkeys

Chemistry World blog draws our attention to a story in the closed source periodical, Nature.

"Japanese researchers have created marmosets that glow green under ultraviolet light by adding the gene that codes for green fluorescent protein (GFP). This latest research, published in the journal Nature, represents a key milestone in animal genetic engineering - but is also proving to be a new focus for animal-rights activists and anti-genetic engineering pressure groups."

That's all very well but what about Alba?

I remember reading in the Newscientist a few years ago about an artist who commissioned a laboratory to create a luminescent rabbit for him - this rabbit was called Alba.

The artist, Edouardo Kac, explained, "[m]y transgenic artwork "GFP Bunny" comprises the creation of a green fluorescent rabbit, the public dialogue generated by the project, and the social integration of the rabbit. GFP stands for green fluorescent protein. "GFP Bunny" was realized in 2000 and first presented publicly in Avignon, France. Transgenic art, I proposed elsewhere [1], is a new art form based on the use of genetic engineering to transfer natural or synthetic genes to an organism, to create unique living beings. This must be done with great care, with acknowledgment of the complex issues thus raised and, above all, with a commitment to respect, nurture, and love the life thus created."

Kac's ideas are certainly interesting; as to whether or not Alba existed, I'm not sure.

Here's a wikipedia link to Kac. I'm a bit dubious as to whether or not he managed to commission Alba but his ideas are certainly interesting. I remember in the original article he asked, as a pet, should we (his familly) love him any more or less because of his genetic engineering?

Update - useful video, "A Green Light for Biology -- Making the Invisible Visible."

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