Courtesy of Robmar

Common sense says that biotechnology is not child's play, but to former surgeon Bruce Bryan, it is. Bryan founded Pinetop, Ariz.-based Prolume to develop a line of glow-in-the-dark toys based on the luciferin/luciferase reaction, the same process behind firefly light and chemiluminescent assays.

The idea dates back to Bryan's childhood, when he observed sea creatures lighting up the water during a scuba diving excursion. As an adult he tinkered with bioluminescence and eventually added the marine luciferase protein into buffered beer to create a glowing beverage. "That was the first invention, making Bud Light light," Bryan says.

Gaining FDA approval for the concoction was another story, however, and Bryan eventually decided to put his effort into developing a squirt gun with a replaceable luciferin/luciferase cartridge. He licensed the idea to New Hampshire-based toy manufacturer Robmar, whose marketing manager, Diane Cote, expects a product to be released within...

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