Engineering Transparent Organisms

A greater goal in mind

The First See-Through Frog
Seeing this type of research being published, you may wonder:

“What’s the point of this non-sense?”
“Why are they doing this when they should be focusing on finding cures for debilitating diseases?”

With more careful consideration you may understand that, often, researchers have a greater goal in mind. Studying animal models is a very good primary approach in investigating treatments for complex pathological conditions.

In this particular study, they used genetic engineering, in its most basic (Mendelian-like) form, to create see-through frogs:

“We have succeeded in creating see-through frogs from natural color mutants of the Japanese brown frog Rana japonica, which usually possesses an ochre or brown back;”They used colored mutant frogs caught in the field (black-eyed and gray-eyed) and crossed them by artificial insemination. After several generations, they obtained frogs homozygous at both gene loci.

This is the first four-legged artificially produced animal:

“Organs such as the lungs, liver, heart, ovaries, stomach, intestines, oviduct, and fat bodies are visible through the translucent skin when the animal is viewed ventrally or laterally.”
Internal organs visible through the translucent skin.

There may be many fields with potentially very useful applications that can derive from this. With translucent skin, researchers can observe processes such as cancer formation and progression continuously (over the life of the organism) without having to dissect them.

“The see-through frogs produced in this study allowed us to observe changes in the internal tissues and organs in detail, externally, in both early development and senescence, to evaluate the effects of chemicals on the viscera and bones in a simple and inexpensive manner, to view the development and progression of cancer, and to assess the effects of toxins over time.”I sure look forward to seeing how this is going to help in the progression/research in human disease. If you want to read the full article, it’s open access.


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