Friday, January 13, 2006

Green Ham and Eggs

Taiwan Breeds Green-glowing Pigs (complete article)

"They claim that while other researchers have bred partly fluorescent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are green through and through.

The pigs are transgenic, created by adding genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo.

The researchers hope the pigs will boost the island's stem cell research, as well as helping with the study of human disease..."

You may ask yourself what pigs would have to do with human disease. Well, as it turns out, external appearances aside, pigs are the closest genetic match for humans, at least as far as internal organs are concerned. It is why they use pig heart valves as replacements for human heart valves, not monkey valves. Similarities in external shape are less relevant.

It is also a biological basis for why many traditional cultures don't eat pork. The species barrier to disease is so easily crossed. Which makes pigs dangerous to eat, but a good candidate for using as a surrogate for studying human disease.

Personally, I find the whole idea of artificially created glow in the dark pigs creepy. My first reaction on reading about these transgenic pigs was it must be a hoax, but it does seem to be real.


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