one for rabbs

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    By John Harlow of The Sunday Times in Los Angeles
    December 22, 2003


    AMERICAN scientists believe they are close to a hi-tech cure for the most common curse upon man's best friend - ctenocephalides canis, the common dog flea.

    Jerry Yang, an expert in genetically modified animals at the University of Connecticut, hopes to produce a flea-repellent strain of dog within 10 years.

    In a first step, Professor Yang and his business partners believe they have identified a gene in cats that, if removed, stops them shedding the hair and fragments of skin that cause allergic reactions.

    The world's first "non-allergenic" cat could follow within two years.

    This, in turn, should help the team devise genetic modifications that could make dogs less attractive to fleas.

    "There is far more work to be done on dogs, because we do not know as much about their genetic make-up and reproductive cycles but, funding allowing, we could break through within five to 10 years," said Professor Yang, who created Amy the cloned calf in 1999 - three years after scientists in Edinburgh produced Dolly the sheep.

    While such "Frankenpets" might cause consternation in Australia, there is relatively little resistance in America. Thousands of people have ordered GloFish, the world's first genetically modified house pet, which flashes red as it swims through warm water. The fish go on sale next month.

    Other genetically modified pets could follow. French scientists have invented a strain of albino rabbit that turns green under ultraviolet light.

    Animal rights groups are appalled. "These are creatures from nightmares, who could cause mayhem if they escape into the wild," said a spokesman for the lobby group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

    The Australian

    Markets a tad boring.
 
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