Scientists have bred two rabbits that glow in the dark, potentially leading to new and efficient ways of producing treatments for genetic diseases, the researchers say.

A research team from the University of Hawaii and the University of Istanbul used an “active transgenesis technique” to produce the glowing rabbits.

The technique involved taking fluorescent protein from the DNA of glowing jellyfish, which the scientists injected into eight rabbit embryos. The embryos were then re-inserted into the mother rabbit.

Dr. Joel Marh, transgenic facility director of The Institute of Biogenesis Research (IBR) at the University of Hawaii told new channel KITV:

“We can inject the actual nucleus of the egg and what we did, we made a slightly larger hole that allows us to regulate the amount of DNA that we put in.”

A litter of eight rabbits was born, and two of the rabbits carry the “glowing gene.” Under normal light, the two rabbits look like any other bunny, but black light causes them to emit a glowing green color.

The researchers say that with this experiment, they wanted to show that genetic manipulation works in rabbits in order to develop new treatments for genetic diseases.

They add that the overall goal is to introduce a beneficial gene into female rabbits, and to collect the protein dispersed in the milk produced by them.

Dr. Stefen Moisyadi, associate professor at IBR, told KITV that the green color is not important, but the green gene acts as a marker to show that a gene can be taken that did not originally exist.

See Dr. Moisyadi in the KITV film at YouTube:

The scientists say their aim is to introduce beneficial genes in larger animals, and this is apparent in their current experiment with a glow-in-the-dark sheep – due to be born in November 2013.

Replicating this experiment in farm animals would enable them to be used as bioreactors that produce pharmaceuticals, say the researchers.

Dr Moisyadi adds:

Let’s say for some patients who suffer from hemophilia and they need the blood clotting enzymes in their blood, we can make those enzymes a lot cheaper in animals with barrier reactives rather than a factory that will cost billions of dollars to build.”

This is not the first time a glow-in-the-dark strategy has been used to demonstrate medical advances. Researchers from John Hopkins University in Baltimore developed genetically engineered mosquitos with glow-in-the-dark eyes, with the aim of preventing the spread of malaria.