Green Fluorescent Protein

The eerie green glow of a jellyfish protein is perhaps nothing sinister, but the anti-science lobby will be having a field day when they hear about the latest amazing research underway at Rockefeller University.

There, Albert Libchaber’s team has created a vesicle that can express genes as if it were a living cell, and in particular the gene for the jellyfish’s green fluorescent protein (GFP). The artificial cell comprises lipids from egg white, various bits of E. coli, and a viral enzyme for good measure.

All of which, to many non-scientists, will sound like a Sci-Fi recipe for disaster. The reason for using GFP is that it provides such an obvious indicator of success, just imagine the headlines if they had used the gene for botulin or some other deadly bacterium. Indeed, who’s to say they haven’t? Watch out for another Michael Crichton blockbuster coming to a bookstore near you soon…

UPDATE: The discovery and development of GFP has won three US scientists the