Crazy World: Glowing cats to cure HIV?

Green-glowing cats to cure HIV?

US: Scientists have developed a strain of green-glowing cats with cells that resist infection from a virus that causes feline AIDS, a finding that may help prevent the disease in cats and advance AIDS research in people.

The study, published on Sunday in the journal Nature Methods, involved inserting monkey genes that block the virus into feline eggs, or oocytes, before they are fertilized.

The scientists also inserted jellyfish genes that make the modified cells glow an eerie green colour -- making the altered genes easy to spot.

Tests on cells taken from the cats show they are resistant to feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, which causes AIDS in cats.

"This provides the unprecedented capability to study the effects of giving AIDS-protection genes into an AIDS-vulnerable animal," Dr. Eric Poeschla of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

Poeschla said that besides people, cats and to some extent, chimpanzees, are the only mammals that develop a naturally occurring virus that causes AIDS.

"Cats suffer from this all over the world," he said.

Just as the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, does in people, FIV works by wiping out infection-fighting T-cells


Police minister robbed by officer on duty

CAPE TOWN: A South African police officer has been arrested for stealing from his boss, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who is tasked with bringing down high crime levels, his spokesman said Tuesday.

A laptop and cellphone were taken from the minister's home in Cape Town.

"There was no break-in," said Mthethwa's spokesman Zweli Mnisi. "The person who took them was a police officer on duty guarding the house."

The items were found and the policeman was arrested with two other people who bought the goods. The three were set to appear in court on Wednesday.

South Africa had 256,577 residential burglaries in 2009 and 18,786 aggravated house robberies, part of the staggering crime problem in a nation with an average 46 killings a day.


24 men held as slaves in caravan park

UK: BRITISH police have raided a caravan park to rescue 24 men they say have been held as slaves and forced to live in squalour, some for up to 15 years.
More than 200 officers from Bedfordshire Police entered the Green Acres caravan site in Leighton Buzzard, northwest of London, and arrested four men and one woman, all residents on the site, on suspicion of slavery offences.

Police said the freed men were mostly English, with some of eastern European origin.

Detectives said they were all vulnerable - either homeless or alcoholics - and had been recruited by "gangmasters" offering money, the BBC reported.

Bedfordshire Police had conducted a long-running investigation into suggestions that the men were being held against their will in poor conditions and forced to work for no pay.

"The men we found at the site were in a poor state of physical health and the conditions they were living in were shockingly filthy and cramped," said Detective Chief Inspector Sean O'Neil, from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire major crime unit.

"We believe that some of them had been living and working there in a state of virtual slavery, some for just a few weeks and others for up to 15 years."

He added: "They're recruited and told if you come here we'll pay you STG80 ($A122) a day, we'll look after you give you board and lodgings.

"But when they get here, their hair is cut off them, they're kept in in some cases (in) horseboxes, dog kennels and old caravans, made to work for no money, given very, very small amounts of food.

"That's the worse case. Some are treated a little bit better, but they were told they could not leave and if they did they would be beaten up and attacked.

"But in fact some people did leave and told us what was going on and when we looked back since 2008 we were aware of 28 people who had made similar accusations."

The rescued men have been taken to a medical centre.

"Some of these people have come off covered in excrement and dirty clothing because that was all they were allowed to live in," O'Neil told BBC television.

"After being cared for, given food and fresh clothing, we hope to then interview them. That in itself will take a long time because these people are institutionalised.

"One person we know has been here 15 years - so to him this is normal life."


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