GeneDupe is a company in the business of genetically engineered luxury pets. They start out with a search image of a mythological creature (right now, dragons, unicorns and gryphons), and the living creature that most closely resembles the mythological creature (lizards for dragons, horses for unicorns, and the spliced genomes of a lion and an eagle for the gryphon). From there, by using computer simulations, the computer goes through a series of random mutations, breeding simulated embryos and selecting for the new mutation that most closely resembles the virtual creature. They have successfully designed, in theory, the genetics of multiple imaginary creatures from popular mythology. The next step for the company, which they are just beginning, is to take it into the real world for testing.
Combining the genetic traits from two different animals into a third is nothing new. Everyone has heard of the rabbit Alba (see wire article "I Love My Glow Bunny"), which had jellyfish genes spliced in to make its eyes, whiskers and fur glow green under fluorescent light. Scientists have also tinkered with designing human-animal chimeras, combining the DNA of humans with animal dna, and allowing the cells to survive for a few days in a petri dish before destroying it (see my previous article, mad geneticists create human monsters; chimeras a reality).
idea via future feeder
source article, "Here be dragons" at Economist.com
Monday, April 03, 2006
Posted by Jim at 3:01 AM