How to Make a Lil BUB

Scientists want to sequence the genes of captivating cat Lil BUB and you can help.

Can we all agree that we heart internet darling Lil BUB? Like, can’t get enough photos/videos of this little kitty. 

Now, in the literal sense, researchers want a piece of Lil BUB, albeit a microscopic piece. Specifically, they would like to do a close analysis of Lil BUB’s DNA in the name of science. Before your mind wanders back to 1996 and Dolly the sheep — the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell — this isn’t about creating an artificial army of Lil BUBs. (Dolly, interestingly, had three mothers: one provided the egg, another the DNA and the third carried the cloned embryo to term!)

It all has to do with analyzing Lil BUB’s DNA to get a better understanding of genetic mutations, and this little feline has quite a few. She has dwarfism, and she is a polydactyl cat (extra thumb on her paws). Lil BUB also suffers from osteorpetrosis, which makes her bones abnormally dense and more prone to fracture than other cats.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin want to sequence Lil BUB’s DNA, as it could provide valuable insight into human genetics. This project is serious like Grumpy Cat. In fact, it’s got its own campaign name, LilBUBome, which is a combination of Lil BUB and Genome, and its own LilBUBome WordPress page. Daniel Ibrahim, one of the lead scientists is quoted on LilBUBome as seeing an instant connection between Lil BUB’s condition and human patients born with rare diseases. “There are several overlapping diseases that share some of the features LilBUB has, but nothing alike. That’s where the idea was born to sequence the DNA of LilBUB.”

Of course, almost all scientific research involves a certain degree of funding, and sequencing Lil BUB’s DNA is no exception. To get the green light, this project needs to hit the target goal of $6,500. This is where the magic of crowd funding comes into play. Now everyday folk can help science by clicking the “Fund this project” button and donating to the cause. With 18 days left in the fundraising campaign, the project is listed as 68% funded ($4,374) so there’s a “lil” bit left to go.

Of course, Lil BUB’s best bud, her person Mike Bridavsky, gives his seal of approval — he’s already given the researchers a sample of Lil BUB’s blood — and Lil BUB surely gives it one of her extra thumbs up.

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