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Red Fluorescent Cat Cloned
By Cho Jin-seo  /  12-12-2007

Researchers found a way to clone pet cats five years ago. Now they can
play a trick on their genes to change their color.

A Gyeongsang National University team said they have succeeded in
cloning cats after modifying a gene to change their skin color.
Because of the red fluorescence protein in their skin cells, the three
Turkish Angola kittens look reddish under ultraviolet light, the
researchers said.

The red cloned cat research is expected to be utilized in dealing with
certain genetic diseases in animals and humans. It will also help
reproduce rare animals, such as tigers and wildcats, which are on the
verge of extinction, the team said.

According to the team led by professor Kong Il-keun, four kittens were
born in January and February by caesarian section, but one died during
the procedure. They weighed between 110 and 136 grams at birth and now
weigh 3.5 kilograms each now, the researchers said.

“We have proved our world-class ability in cloning animals that have
modified characteristics,” said Kong. “We found that the red
fluorescent protein in all the organs of the dead kitten, which means
we have established an efficient way of cloning gene-modified cats.”

The first cloned cat, nicknamed Copycat, was born in 2002 at Texas A&M
University. Many other animals such as cows, dogs, pigs, bulls and
goats have been successfully cloned by a number of researchers in
North America, Europe and South Korea.

Kong cloned a cat in 2004 for the first time in the country. He has
since worked as director of research at a state-supported project to
clone animals for therapeutic research.

To clone the Turkish Angola cats, Kong’s team used skin cells of the
mother cat. They modified its genes to make them fluorescent by using
a virus, which was transplanted into the ova. The ova were then
implanted into the womb of the donor cat.

Called reproductive cloning, the method has been mostly used in
cloning animals that are genetically identical, until Kong’s kittens
were born with the tampered genes.

The technique differs from therapeutic cloning, which is to make a
“stem cell” that can be guided to grow into a specific body part.
Former Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk used this
method in his human stem cell cloning research, which was later found
to have used fabricated data.

Korean scientists clone red fluorescent cats
December 12, 2007

Korean scientists have cloned cats possessing red fluorescence protein
(RFP) that can be used to treat human genetic diseases, the government
said Wednesday (Dec. 12).

The Ministry of Science and Technology said a team led by Kong Il-
keun, an animal cloning expert at Gyeongsang National University,
manipulated the RFP in the skin tissue of Turkish Angora cats.

Three cats with the changed RFP were born in January and February with
one being born dead.

The two living animals are the first RFP cats produced in the world,
and currently weigh 3.0 kilograms and 3.5 kilograms each, the ministry
said. It added while they look like other Turkish Angoras under normal
light, they “glow” in the dark if exposed to ultraviolet beams.

“The ability to manipulate the fluorescent protein and use this to
clone cats, opens new horizons for artificially creating animals with
human illnesses linked to genetic causes,” a government official said.
This, he said, can speed up efforts to find treatment and drugs by
allowing scientists to study animals and conduct experiments that are
not possible with human patients.

The expert said the ability to clone cats could be further developed
to help endangered animals including tigers and leopards, maintain the
numbers needed for procreation.

The ministry provided funding for the project to help bolster the
country’s knowledge in this bio-science field.

Kong had made headlines by becoming the first person in the country to
clone cats in 2004 and has since been named director of research of a
state-supported project to clone animals for therapeutic research.

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