Seoul: South Korean scientists say they have engineered four beagles that glow red using cloning techniques that could help develop cures for human diseases.
The four dogs, all named "Ruppy" -- a combination of the words "ruby" and "puppy" -- look like typical beagles by daylight. But they glow red under ultraviolet light, and the dog's nails and abdomens, which have thin skins, look red even to the naked eye.
Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team, called them the world's first transgenic dogs carrying fluorescent genes, an achievement that goes beyond just the glowing novelty.
"What's significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that we planted genes into them," Lee told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
His team identified the dogs as clones of a cell donor through DNA tests and earlier this month introduced the achievement in a paper on the Web site of the journal "Genesis."
Scientists in the US, Japan and in Europe previously have cloned fluorescent mice and pigs, but this would be the first time dogs with modified genes have been cloned successfully, Lee said.
He said his team took skin cells from a beagle, inserted fluorescent genes into them and put them into eggs before implanted them into the womb of a surrogate mother, a local mixed breed.