Scientists are trying to move beyond conventional model organisms, like fruit flies, zebrafish, yeast, and mice. They started using CRISPR gene-editing technology to craft new model organisms or to study the animals that they are more interested in. The genetic alterations generally take hold but the practical challenges of breeding and maintaining unconventional lab animals persist.

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Researchers from the University of California tested gene-drive technology in mice. This controversial application of CRISPR, capable of altering the genomes of entire species, has been applied to mammals for the first time. Although the developed technology has a long way to go before being used for pest control in the wild, it could be useful in basic research. Read more


Zebrafish have become the animal model of choice for research in many areas. Now, researchers from Rice University trace roots of cancer development using genetically modified zebrafish. These fish produce fluorescent tags in migratory embryonic nerve precursor cells, enabling them to trace neuroblastoma and other forms of cancer. Read more

Snake venom

It is common knowledge that the venom from a snake or scorpion can be dangerous. Less known is the fact that several drugs are derived from the toxins of venomous animals. Throughout history, humans have used toxins for medical purposes. Today, modern medicine uses the vast amount of toxins as inspiration for developing novel drugs. Despite the potential of venom-derived drugs, only seven have been approved so far. Read more

jumping spider eyes

Scientists are unraveling evolutionary mysteries behind the world of spider vision. New findings could provide new gene therapies for people with visual defects like macular degeneration and retinal cancer. Read more

Mantis shrimp

Findings of an international team of 27 scientists implicate that we are on the threshold of a new era of color science that could have far-reaching impacts on the security industry, medicine, clothing design, military and understanding of animal and human behavior. Read more

Black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis)

Snakebite at first glance does not seem to be a problem, which should concern a modern human. Despite numerous achievements in the field of pharmacology, it is however among the most neglected diseases of our era.

Grim statistics provided by the WHO (World Health Organisation) show that, each year, 5 million bites occur, leading to 150,000 deaths and a striking 400,000 amputations. The lucky ones who manage to avoid a deadly outcome of snakebite envenoming are often mentally and physically scarred for life. Read more

The molecular mechanisms that cause rare species of mushrooms to glow in the dark have baffled scientists for years. A new study set to finally uncover the mystery behind their bioluminescence revealed that it is in fact based on luciferin oxidation, the same chemical process used by fireflies.

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Scientists have managed to completely eliminate the HIV virus in living mice using the revolutionary CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology. They have demonstrated how it excises the viral DNA from the host animal and prevents further infection, providing hope that it could one day benefit humans.

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Researchers at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) have discovered that stevia stimulates a protein that is essential for our perception of taste and is involved in the release of insulin after a meal. These results create new possibilities for the treatment of diabetes. Read more