London, Oct 24 : Scientists in New Orleans have created a cat that may look like a normal tabby in light but glows in the dark. The six-month-old cat, named Mr Green Genes, has been genetically modified as part of an experiment at the Audubon Centre for Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans that could lead to treatments for conditions like cystic fibrosis.
Betsy Dresser, the centre's director, said that Mr. Green Genes is the first fluorescent cat in the United States and probably the world, reports the Telegraph.
It was created so that researchers could learn whether a gene could be introduced harmlessly into the feline's genetic sequence to create what is formally known as a transgenic cat.
If so, it would be the first step in a process that could lead to the development of ways to combat diseases via gene therapy.
Dresser said that the gene, which was added to Mr. Green Genes' DNA when he was created, has no effect on his health.
Dr. Martha Gomez, a veterinarian and staff scientist at the center, said that cats are ideal for this project because their genetic makeup is similar to that of humans.
To show that the gene went where it was supposed to go, the researchers settled on one that would glow.
Leslie Lyons, an assistant professor of population health and reproduction at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, who is familiar with the Audubon center's work, said that the gene "is just a marker."
"The glowing part is the fun part," she said.