Researchers from the Mayo Clinic have developed a new way to combat feline AIDS. In the most recent issue of Nature Methods they describe the technique they established to accomplish gamete-targeted transgenesis for the first time in a carnivore. The researchers successfully managed to introduce protective genes into the cat’s genome. Another remarkable fact about this technique is that for tracking purposes the researchers used a jellyfish gene, alongside the gene for a rhesus macaque restriction factor which can block cell infection by Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). It resulted in a transgenic luminescent cat as you can see in the image.
Like HIV in humans, FIV causes AIDS in cats. And cats, like humans, have restriction factors ineffective against FIV and HIV respectively. By introducing the rhesus macaque restriction factor into the cats genome, the researchers created a model to better understand the potential of restriction factor introduction to combat immunodeficiency viruses. The project has the potential to benefit both feline and human health. And not just by creating glowing cats so you won’t trip over them in the dark.
Press release: Mayo Clinic Teams with Glowing Cats Against AIDS, Other Diseases
Abstract in Nature Methods: Antiviral restriction factor transgenesis in the domestic cat