Glow i9n the dark Beagle
Tegon glows green under ultraviolet light. Image: carrera911e/Flickr/CC BY

South Korean scientists have created a genetically engineered Beagle that glows green under ultraviolet light. The dog will aid researchers in finding new ways to treat diseases.

Tegon born in a laboratory

Tegon, a 2-year-old female Beagle, was created in a laboratory by a research team from Seoul National University (SNU). By utilizing a process called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, an embryo was cloned that combined  Beagle DNA with a green fluorescent gene from a sea anemone. The embryo was then implanted into the womb of a surrogate mother Beagle.

Understanding how diseases progress

There are 268 known illnesses common to people and dogs. Creating dogs that show symptoms of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s could aid in better understanding how those diseases progress. And that knowledge could eventually lead to better methods of treating the diseases themselves.

“The creation of Tegon opens new horizons since the gene injected to make the dog glow can be substituted with genes that trigger fatal human diseases,” said Lee Byeong-chun, lead researcher in the project.

Animal rights groups react

Animal rights groups have been quick to react. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals stated that Tegon is only one of more than 100 million animals used for scientific testing worldwide and that attention should be given to their plight

Kassandra Wilson’s comments to a blog post about Tegon were quoted by KDFW-TV in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas:

“Whoever decided it was OK to take advantage of creatures who are incapable of expressing themselves in a way we understand was a sick and disgusting human being. To me, a human life is no more important than a dog’s life, and personally I feel as if most dogs deserve to live more than some humans.”

Not the first glowing Beagle

Odd as it seems, Tegon is not the world’s first glow-in-the-dark Beagle. In 2009, South Korean scientists engineered four Beagle puppies, labeled “transgenic dogs,” who glowed red under ultraviolet light.

Research to be published

The South Korean researchers will present their research on Tegon in  the next issue of the scientific journal “Genesis.” The research took four years and cost roughly $3 million to date.


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