Posted at 12:47 PM ET, 09/12/2011

Glow-in-the-dark cats, jellyfish and monkeys may prevent AIDS

Kittens are not just adorable, they may also help end AIDS. (Robert Otto)
Scientists may be locating a protection against AIDS, thanks in part to cats that glow in the dark, jellyfish and monkeys.

Before writing this off as just another adorable Internet hoax (green cat battles plague with trusty monkey sidekick!), pause a moment to consider the source: the Mayo Clinic. Researchers at what is, according to The Washington Post, “a world-renowned medical complex that is often cited by President Obama as his model for national heath-care reform,” may have found a way to pass along a protective gene that fights AIDS.

A cat which has been genetically altered to make cells that resist a version of the AIDS virus that affects cats, along with a jellyfish protein that makes it glow green. (Reuters)
Researchers are studying feline immunodeficeincy virus (FIV), which causes AIDS in cats in a similar manner as HIV causes the diesease in humans. The study works to insert genes into cats that fight off the disease and can be passed on from mother cat to kittens, effectiviely wiping out the disease for future generations.

That’s where the glowing part comes in. The experiments use a glowing gene taken from a jellyfish that allows scientists to track the success of gene transference. The results are literally visible in the dark. If the transfer works, cats glow green or red.

The study also inserts a gene from a rhesus macaque that fights feline AIDS virus. The Mayo Clinic reports that the first findings of the study show cats with the protective genes to be thriving and producing kittens with the same gene.

Here’s a report from last year that shows how Japanese scientists work with the glowing gene on cats:

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