Glow in the dark technology advancing science

Scientists lighting up cancer, bunnies, and roads

Remember the colorful forest from the movie Avatar?  Well, a group of Stanford scientists are trying to make that a reality through their Glowing Plant Project.

"What if we used trees to light our streets instead of electric street lamps?"  That's a key question from the group's Kickstarter video, which they used to raise funds for the research.

Using glowing genes from bacteria and fireflies, the researchers are working to transfer those genes into the plants' DNA.  The result?  Glowing greenery that could help us save energy.

Next, imagine taking a drive on the highway of the future. Glow in the dark roadway markings light the way using photo luminescent paint.  Sunlight charges it during the day and it can stay lit for up to 10 hours at night.

The cool glow in the dark stuff does more than light up the night on Halloween.  The fun technology that made many of us smile as a kid could one day save your life.

"Who can tell me where the cancer begins and where it ends?"  Dr. Jim Olson posed that question during a TED Talk in Seattle.

Olson is a brain researcher, who invented a drug called Tumor Paint.  It acts like a flashlight, attaching to brain tumors and making them shine bright, helping surgeons find and remove the cancerous tissue while avoiding healthy tissue.

'There are also high levels of cancer recurrence that are happening because all of the cancer isn't removed during surgery," said Heather Franklin, President and CEO of Blaze Bioscience, a company helping to further Olson's research.

Human testing is scheduled to begin later this year and similar projects are already underway to detect cancer cells in other parts of the body.

"Someday, people won't believe that we ever did surgery without tumor paint technology," Franklin said.

Scientists in Turkey and at the University of Hawaii are injecting bunnies with fluorescent proteins from jelly fish DNA .  No, they're not trying to make green bunnies.  They're trying to manipulate their genes in the bunnies to create new medicines.

It's a short list of bright ideas that could lead to some glowing breakthroughs.

Glowing Green Rabbits from UHMed on Vimeo

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