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Like penicillin, it all started with an accident.
In 1997 a Japanese researcher named Masaru Okabe was looking for a way to track sperm development. His thought was to cram a jellyfish gene encoding a glowing protein — green fluorescent protein, or GFP — into a mouse’s sperm. Then the sperm cells would literally light up when exposed to a certain wavelength of light, allowing him to track them as they developed. But instead, he wound up with the inverse: nearly everything but the sperm glowed. He had a full-on fluorescent green mouse.
The mistake was fortuitous. Glowing mice aren’t just seriously cool; they’re also medically relevant. For instance, other researchers have similarly tagged human cancer cells with a glowing red protein and injected them into glowing green mice (engineered to be fur-less as well, so that the glow is visible). Then they can track the cancer as it grows and spreads, differentiating it from healthy cells by color alone.
(Left: Fluorescent red cancer cells lined with the fluorescent green blood vessels of a fluorescent green mouse. Right: Fluorescent red tumor in a fluorescent green mouse. Both images from here.)
Below the fold: glowing fishies, bunnies, and kitties…
Finger-painted by a kindergartener? Think again: foot-painted by a cockroach.
“Eleven Steps” by Steven R. Kutcher
Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)
With gouache on paper, 2003.
Please check out his website at BugArtBySteven.com
This is what the artist looks like: Read the rest of this entry »