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Biotech

Re-Pet a Reality 482

Posted by michael
from the double-your-pleasure dept.
tigerdarklord writes "The Sci-Fi concept of pet cloning has become a commercial venture. Genetic Savings & Clone now not only offers genebanking for your pet (alive or recently dead), but a full service cloning shop. Although they started by producing two clones of the CEO's cat, they have now produced their first commercial clone for a woman from Texas. GSC has modified their cloning procedure to overcome the resemblance issues demonstrated when the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M, created CopyCat. The technology looks promising but the $50,000 price tag will prove to place the service out of the reach of most pet owners."
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Re-Pet a Reality

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  • I for one (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:09PM (#11169098)
    Welcome our furry overlords!
  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:09PM (#11169102)
    In all of Ruffy's 14 years, I never could teach her not to piddle on the rug. Now I have a second chance to housetrain her once and for all.
    • for $50,000 I could pay a Penthous Pet to piss on the the carpet for me, I'd take pictures and open up a water games website :)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The customers of these guys are funding our future. Before criticizing them, consider, they're giving us
      • safe and affordable organ transplants from our own cloned tissue
      • endangered species returning.
      • extinct species returning.
      • opportunities for better cheap foods
      • ultimately contributing to our immortality

      Getting cloning out of the hands of a few drug companies who want to profit from the rest of the world's ignorance will create industries and opportunities we can't even imagine today.

      Once the pri

      • ...they clone organs of humans, medicine will never be the same.

        I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that medicine will probably become like computer repair in a way, where the doctor will think an organ goes bad, so they'll just replace it instead of performing proper diagnostics. I really can't say if it's bad or good, but it sure sounds creepy. Also, there are a (admittedly, small) number of diseases and ailments that would require the replacement of damn near the whole body. I wonder how that wil

    • by ikkonoishi (674762) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:43PM (#11169475) Journal
      The interesting thing is unless they fixed it age degradation transfers over.

      So if your pet died of old age then the clone will die soon as well because it's DNA is a copy of the old dna with the shortened protein buffers around the edges.

      Sexual reproduction solves this by using the redundancy of the two sets of DNA while simpler creatures such as bacteria don't need the hugely complex dna chains of animals and plants.

      Link [infoaging.org] for more info.
      • DNA is a copy of the old dna with the shortened protein buffers around the edges. Sexual reproduction solves this by using the redundancy of the two sets of DNA
        Yeah, sex rocks. Take some time this holiday season to appreciate the wonders of sex!
  • I wonder (Score:5, Funny)

    by MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:10PM (#11169112) Journal
    I wonder if they can clone my pet bee so I can have a whole Eric-the-bee instead of my Eric-the-half-bee due to his 'accident'.
    • Re:I wonder (Score:2, Funny)

      by dsheeks (65644)
      Great idea. We just need a "Whole Cat/Dog/Bee/etc. Life Insurance Policy". Based on the life expectancy of the cat, (12 years for indoor cat, 6 months for outdoor cat near the Interstate, etc.), they save a few cat cells and collect between $350 and $8333 per month. If the cat dies early, they replace it with an exact replica (minus wear), or if the cat outlives the policy you get to collect dividend payments until the cat kicks off. You could even have a cash payout clause in case it turns out you don't re
  • by andreMA (643885) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:10PM (#11169113)
    again...
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:11PM (#11169117) Homepage Journal

    The technology looks promising but the $50,000 price tag will prove to place the service out of the reach of most pet owners.

    ... and they get a pet that looks like their deceased pet yet isn't. "Mittens 2.0 scratches my furniture, Mittens 1.0 didn't."
    If these people really loved animals and would quit trying to relive the past with a facsimile-pet the $50K (or less) would be better used if donated to a pet shelter for food and sterilization programs. And while they're there they could take home an animal currently on death row.
    • Exactly. A clone your beloved pet isn't going to necessarily look like or act like the original. Saving an (equally lovable) animal from death row or adopting a neighborhood stray is going to give you much more satisfaction.
    • by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:21PM (#11169249) Homepage Journal
      If these people really loved animals and would quit trying to relive the past with a facsimile-pet the $50K (or less) would be better used if donated to a pet shelter for food and sterilization programs.

      Yeah, they could. Of course, people who loved animals could take the $3000 they spent on a new computer to replace their barely-a-year-old computer and donate it to a pet shelter as well. People spend money. The vast majority of it goes to things that other people think are "wasteful," at least in this country. The only thing that changes is the perspective.

      As to the wisdom of spending $50k on a cat - any cat - I'd say that it depends a lot on your overall financial picture.

      And as for cloning, well, that's another debate entirely. Two debates actually, one on the ethics of it and another one on the effectiveness. Ah, joy.
    • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:42PM (#11169466)

      ...the $50K (or less) would be better used...

      The odd thing about money is that it follows a conservation principle... it's never destroyed, it just changes form.

      $50k was just liberated from somebody who didn't need it. Half of it went into taxes (on the operation, the materials for the operation, the salaries for the employees etc), the other half was distributed among those who performed the operation.

      You could argue that it was a $50k investment towards the practitioners of vetrenary science, which I'm sure bennefits the rest of society somehow.

      I have no problem with wealthy people spending money on frivilous things. It does bug me though when they spend it on things which hurt everyone else... like gas-guzzling cars, old growth wood, clothes made from slave labour, stuff like that.

      IMHO, the greater harm was done just by creating another cat rather than saving one from a shelter... the $50k is better liberated regardless of how or why... and the harm done isn't that big a deal.

      • I agree with you 99%. I really couldn't care less what the rich do with their $50k. Piss it all away on hookers and blow. Have a blast. I just don't see the sense in creating a new cat from your old one, when you can just get a free cat (even a kitten) from an animal shelter who otherwise would most certainly be put down! You'd be helping control the animal population and saving a life in the process! You'd be a hero! And... you could still go home and celebrate with $50k worth of hookers and blow.
    • by doublem (118724)
      You're missing a few very vital points.

      Your advice assumes the following:

      The pet owner actually had their pet as a companion, instead of as a status symbol.

      The dead pet isn't a purebred that already costs close to $50k

      A cloned pet won't become the SUV like status symbol of the next decade.

      Said Pet owner actually loves animals instead of using them as accessories.

      People understand that memories and training are NOT part of what's cloned.

      People understand that any similarity in behavior between the clo
    • "... and they get a pet that looks like their deceased pet yet isn't. "

      It actually may not even look like their pet. Often appearance is not identical even with clones, such as in calico cats.

  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:11PM (#11169126)
    "Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M, created CopyCat"

    Someone better check with the RIAA to make sure that this does not violate the DMCA.

    • its fair to mod this funny but do keep in mind that your PTO grants patents on plants. In particular, plant species newly discovered or produced for the first time by some form of hybridization...so what, other than religous dogma, would keep them from granting patents on strains of cat or dog? The notion of proprietary interest in a particular compliment of genes is established in law and the way breeders try to make money off dogs, cats, goldfish and, of course, race horses pretty well establishes the
    • Article from the future:

      "CopyCat Stevens Kicked Off Flight Because Of US No-Fly List"
  • by BJZQ8 (644168) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:13PM (#11169138) Homepage Journal
    This whole experiment should solve the nature-vs-nurture controversy. The client claims that the cloned cat has the same personality as its donor...but then again, how closely was this one raised to its predecessor?
    • This whole experiment should solve the nature-vs-nurture controversy.

      Identical twins have existed throughout history, and yet the controversy still persists. This is hardly likely to provide any conclusive evidence.
      • But this way we can be more sciencetific about the tests. We cannot take human twins seporate them and put them in a box for 20 years feed them the same stimuli and see what they do. VS. With animals most cats would be happy living in a box getting fed regulary in a controlled environment.
    • I've heard cat lovers talk about certain breeds having certain traits.

      Let me clarify that... Lat week my neighbor presented this theory while explaining why her cat would come over to my place and inspect all the goings on. It's not the first time I've heard that. Sort of like the bored kids that come over to play on my MAME cocktail cab.

    • The client claims that the cloned cat has the same personality as its donor...but then again, how closely was this one raised to its predecessor?

      A better question to ask is how delusional the client is.

      Look, my partner I have a cat (or maybe vice-versa). We're damned fond of her, and we like to pretend we understand her, but we're both smart enough to know that our perception of her personality is massively garbled by the fact that we're human and she's not. There is no friggin' way that this woman's

    • You also have to consider the mental state of the owner - if she's grief-stricken enough to pay $50k to have her dead cat cloned, she's got to be wearing some serious rose-colored glasses when she thinks and talks about her new cat's personality.

  • $50,000.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tebriel (192168) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:13PM (#11169145)
    is a lot of money for the "same" pet to piss all over the carpet.

    I'll just go down to the pound and get a pet for $20 to piss all over the carpet, thanks.
    • is a lot of money for the "same" pet to piss all over the carpet. I'll just go down to the pound and get a pet for $20 to piss all over the carpet, thanks.

      That's what I'd do, and pocket the other $49,980. Maybe pay half to an "independent" 3rd party run DNA tests to confirm the clone.

  • Let's hope Hugh Hefner supports this initiative.
  • someone fooled with the life force of a CAT [houseofhorrors.com].

    sometimes dead is better

  • Yes, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cutting_Crew (708624)
    didnt the lady say that everything about this cat is exactly alike? i imagine as time goes on and as the kitten grows to an adult(assuming the kitten lives that long) then some things will start happening that didnt happen before. i agree with one of the comments that for $50,000 she could have saved a lot of cats from being put to death, but rather found loving caring homes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    These people are not and never will be ressurecting their loved dead pets. The pet that you loved is DEAD. Go save some pet that is actually still alive and save it from being gassed.
  • Prosecution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by maxchaote (796339) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:18PM (#11169209)
    I wonder if this cloning business would eventually result in DNA evidence being inadmissable in court.
    • They already have that problem when someone who has an indentical twin commits a crime. Luckily, the other twin has been able to provide a rock solid alibi so far. Sometimes from jail. But it is already an issue, including in rape cases.

      However, the one major problem with a clone of a human is that the clone would still be many years younger. If I got cloned now, I might have to worry about this in around 14 or more years but not before.
    • Great point -- RNA transcription is already done in crime labs around the country (it's how they duplicate enough biological evidence to have enough DNA to test.)

      Simply collect a sample from whatever poor schmuck you want to frame (hair, spit, blood, mucous, whatever), spray a squirt bottle full of his DNA all over a black leather glove cleverly left behind at the scene, then just add Ito.

  • I don't think the $50,000 price tag is really an obstacle. I mean, think of all the average people driving $40,000 SUVs and $100,000 motor homes. I think there are a lot of middle-class weirdos out there who would be willing to make payments for the rest of their lives to get a cat or dog back.
  • by Otter (3800) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:20PM (#11169231) Journal
    Whatever you think of the business model, that name freaking rocks.

    I mean, it would be stupid in a science fiction story, but to actually operate under that name has to earn some points.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Let's see if CopyCat can keep up with PlagiarAss technology.
  • Mortality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) * on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:21PM (#11169252) Homepage Journal
    It's weird that people have become so "undisciplined" that they can't accept death at the end of life. It lives, it breathes, it loves, but eventually it dies. All pets do, all people do. Does it hurt? Of course it does, I've cried so hard at the loss of a pet that I thought I'd never want another out of fear of the pain of the loss in the future. But it hasn't stopped me from getting other pets.

    Anyway, this is still a clone -- it's a different "instance" of the original animal (even if it's made via a copy constructor.) It won't have "genetic memory" of its new owner, it will be a completely different pet. Why spend $50,000? Why not spend $100 at the pound, or a few hundred from a quality breeder, or even a "FREE KITTYS" from a farm?

    I see this as only catering to the clinically insane. The rich, clinically insane, but insane nonetheless. Oh, well, I suppose if there's cash to be made, why not make it? ...

    • It's that animals, like humans, have genetic predispositions. They are inherantly smarter or stupider, friendlier, etc. Of course how they are raised affects how they come out, but so does their genetics.

      Well, I've had (adn have) pets that I'd like another one form the same template. One of my cats, Forte, is by far the smartest cat I've ever had. He's also very friendly, playful, and personable. Now all my cats are generally friendly, because all the humans they meet are nice and caring towards them. Howe
    • It's weird that people have become so "undisciplined" that they can't accept death at the end of life.

      But we've never become "disciplined" enough to accept disease and premature death. We fight against child mortality; we fight against polio and smallpox and AIDS. We oppose everything which takes away that most precious gift, life.

      Why not oppose death itself? Is it truly more "disciplined" to accept death?
    • Re:Mortality (Score:3, Insightful)

      by scribblej (195445)
      I think if you look through the history of humankind, you'll find that we haven't "become undisciplined" -- fear and denial of death is something that has existed since the very beginning of recorded history.

      Witness religion, countless billions of men who are so bent on not-dying they've invented fairy tales about how death really isn't.

      As for cloning, I couldn't agree with you more. What you are getting is at best the equivalent of a twin of your old animal. Twins, even identical twins, can be very dif
    • Anyway, this is still a clone -- it's a different "instance" of the original animal (even if it's made via a copy constructor.) It won't have "genetic memory" of its new owner, it will be a completely different pet.

      So what you're saying is...

      struct cat {
      std::string name;
      time_t birthdate;
      unsigned char *memory;
      }

      if (CatIsDead(myCat)) {
      cat NewCat = myCat;
      PutToSleep(myCat);
      }

      oh wait... that would just make the new cat point to the old cat's memory.... I guess the analogy only goes so far. :-P

      And, as

    • Anyway, this is still a clone -- it's a different "instance" of the original animal (even if it's made via a copy constructor.) It won't have "genetic memory" of its new owner, it will be a completely different pet.

      I have noticed a rampant bias against Jean-Baptiste Lamarck [wikipedia.org] here on Slashdot.

      My only consolation is in knowing that few here will breed, thus preventing this prejudice from carrying on. :D

    • Re:Mortality (Score:3, Insightful)

      by yndrd1984 (730475)
      I see this as only catering to the clinically insane. The rich, clinically insane, but insane nonetheless.

      Yeah, people that buy weird things must be insane. /sarcasm

      Oh, well, I suppose if there's cash to be made, why not make it?

      "Why not indeed!?!" -Bender /humorous quotes

      1. Is this stupider than feeding the original cat caviar three meals a day? It's their money.
      2. "Diciplined" people accept death? I never thought of 'diciplined' and 'wussy' as synonyms.
      3. When vets/genetic researchers/Jurassic

    • Re:Mortality (Score:3, Insightful)

      by incom (570967)
      If I had the money, I'd be interested in this FOR the genetic reasons, not some mystical notion of it copying the brain state/ experiences of the animal. Not to mention this funds the advancement of the entire science of cloning, which I find to be a very good thing.
  • While there's lots of gasping about the price tag, there's no question that there are customers out there. See Burkhart Bilger's The Last Meow [envirolink.org] -- and no, it's not a joke article!

    "We're looking at spending a thousand dollars in the next twenty-four hours and between three and four thousand in the next week," Langston told Levering. If the dialysis was successful, Lady would have to be transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where her condition was first diagnosed. (The university's veterinary hos

    • The "customers" I think of are not the recently-bereaved, but those involved in breeding animals. A champion show dog, for instance, is easily worth 50 grand. It's highly likely that cloning as opposed to selective breeding would confuse the hell out of the folks at the AKC, but for those of us looking to better our odds on getting a healthy pup from a good line, the idea of seeing the scientific method put to greater use would be very appealing.


  • There are millions of already-born animals that are dieing to be adopted. Literally. I wish some of this research money would be spent on population control of pets (i.e. free spaying and neutering) so we wouldn't have to put so many unwanted pets to death.

    Here's where you can find pet adoption [creatures.com] info for the state of Texas. Google for your own region [google.com].
    • If you look at the website, you will see that they pay spay/neuter clinics (like humane societies) for the eggs. That money is used to provide more spay and neuter services. So, the money IS spent on population control. It's also working toward commoditizing the process, which could mean great things for species near extinction.

    • Yes, and there are millions of children in oprhanages wating to be adopted. Literally. Maybe people should stop having kids and adopt instead huh?
  • by TrevorB (57780) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:35PM (#11169402) Homepage
    OK, cloned cat, nice, but how long will it live?

    People who read about cloning don't realize that the cloned cells have shortened telomeres [wikipedia.org]. The Telomere acts as a cap to protect DNA as its copied. As cells reproduce, the telomere gets shorter and shorter until the DNA isn't protected anymore and you start seeing aging diseases.

    Sure, this cat looks like a kitten, but at a cellular level, it's still an aged cat. It may not have much longer to live than its twin did if it lived out the rest of its natural life.

    This is exactly what happened to Dolly the sheep [wellesley.edu]. Dolly lived to be 6, about half the age of an average sheep. [thelabrat.com]

    • Many epigenetic states are also not reproduced because the cloned DNA doesn't go through the normal sexual process. Genetic imprinting (which parent does the expressed gene come from) is believed to be controlled through DNA methylation. Methylation in cloned cells is seen to be different. There are probably other differences we don't even know about. Limited lifespan is only one problem. Abnormally large offspring (possibly due to over-expression of genes) is one of a number of problems seen in clones. We
    • Genetic Savings & Clone have thought of that actually. They want you to keep your cat's DNA "on file" with them for $895. Then, when you need a clone, you take from the genes that you have on file. The idea is that you do this very early on in the cat's life, and they can probably keep enough genetic material for a lifetime of cats.
  • by rmpotter (177221) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:39PM (#11169431) Homepage
    "Looks promising", eh?

    No, just another example flagrant consumption -- commodity fetishism at its worst. Even life has a price for those who can afford it. As other have pointed out, $50,000 could have helped relieve a lot of suffering for people and animals alike.

    Looked at another way, its just another example of our society's pathological fear of death. The Egyptians also had an major death fear/fetish and they even mumified their pet cats once in a while -- but at least they buried them!

    And American soldiers are dying by the score to help preserve that way of life. Another sad day for the planet.

  • Worth it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rathian (187923)
    Our pets are so dear to us. They shine so bright in our lives but sadly burn twice as quick (and quicker).

    I had a blue tabby cat for 18 years. He was dear to me. Losing him hurt like hell.

    After a year of waiting, I got a new cat, this one a long haired calico. She's totally different than my old cat. There's things she doesn't do that my old cat did - and I miss those things. She brings new and different joys into my life. I have come to treasure her for who she is.

    In a way I believe cloning dimini
  • Wow, way to make a commodity out of pets. If you can go out and just get another exact copy Fluffy or Fido, then I don't see how people would find pets to be a part of the family, rather than just another object in the house. We're already a disposable culture, do we want to extend this to pets, too?

    I have three cats at home, and I love them dearly. Being able to get another copy of them wouldn't make them as special.
  • There are a lot of animals in shelters that need a home. If you create a "clone" of your pet, it won't be your original pet, it will just kind of resemble it. Personality is not born, it is acquired.

    I commend them for the science, but abhor the stupid commercialism of this.
  • to bring back a rare animal. You talk of dogs and cats, but this can extend to exotics as well, like Pandas, or Zomodo Dragons, or other species that are rapidly becoming extinct.

    I had a Roughneck Monitor (Varanus Rudicolis) that was my companion through all kinds of life experiences. He died unexpectedly and I was devastated.

    I would give anything to be able to have him back, this news comes about 4 years too late, but I can only see benefits to this program.
  • by dAzED1 (33635) <brianlamere@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:51PM (#11169539) Homepage Journal
    My wife worked for Dr Westhusian and Dr Kraemer at Texas A&M for the Missyplicity Project. They founded Genetics Savings and Clones with a couple others, but have since split with them. She has played with CC (Carbon Copy...NOT "CopyCat"). Dr Kraemer is the one that has CC, and named her, so...its his call. Argue with him.

    My wife actually cultured the cells that they used for CC. All very cool, and all as a 485 class she was doing for her senior honors thesis (in undergrad!).

    ok, now that that is out of the way...

    My wife is interested in conservation medicine (which she will be studying after finishing her DVM). When she began the actual work that yielded CC, I can tell you she wasn't doing it as a horrible person. When we got the cat we have, we picked one that had been taken back to the pound 3 times, and was going to be killed. However...for the proceedure/technology to be perfected, it needs to be *used*. For us to figure out how to mitigate the cloning problems for the purposes of endangered species, we have to have a large test pool - like people's pets. And if people pay for it, helping offset the research cost - all the better. There just isn't enough real money out there available in grants without commericializing it for supplimental income.

    Just a little background for the teeming masses. Not everyone involved in this stuff are terribly people that ignore the rights of cats and dogs in pounds to have happy homes. Quite contrary, really - my wife could have taken her undergrad degrees and made more with them in human applications than she will after she gets her 2 graduate degrees (DVM and PhD). There's no money in it, for the most part. Most of these people (no, not all) have at least some degree of conservation background.

    • And if people pay for it, helping offset the research cost - all the better. There just isn't enough real money out there available in grants without commericializing it for supplimental income.

      Just a little background for the teeming masses. Not everyone involved in this stuff are terribly people that ignore the rights of cats and dogs in pounds to have happy homes....


      What you said.

      Plus one more comment...

      This is still America, the last time I looked. People should be able to spend their money any
  • While I think it is extremely cool that we can now do this, I really hoped the genetics revolution wouldn't lead down this path. Obviously gene therapy and better medicine will be the true victories from our learning of ourselves. This is cool, but also a crappy by-product, if you ask me.

    In the meantime, I think that money might be better spent on a psychiatrist for this woman. Death is a part of the life cycle - deal with it you loser. Death is nothing to be afraid of, nothing to be mourned for too lon

    • I think that money might be better spent on a psychiatrist for this woman.

      Ah, but it's her money that is paying the way. I think you should consider who pays for all your "extremely cool" technology. Normally it's the man (or woman) on the street who just put down a TON of cash on something that you laugh at, or at least laugh at the price tag. Without these people where would the funding for more R&D come from.

      Still don't like the concept? Simple, don't buy it.
  • I figure that I could clone my pecker, and stack it onto the end of the one I have, and double my size. Then, I could do it again, and, after 64 times, I would have a dong the size of the universe, which would collapse on itself into a singularity before bursting to create a new universe. Thus I will truly have had the big bang.
  • Cloning animals is one thing. I personally don't think we'll EVER be able to clone a human. The reason? Animals do not have a soul. Humans do. You cannot clone the soul, and without it a human cannot live. When the soul leaves the body, you're dead and no amount of shocking will bring you back.

    Just my thoughts.
  • I haven't decided whether to call them 3Jane or Wilbur Whately yet, though.
  • Two days ago my cat was killed by a driver who did not bother to even stop after the accident. We did not know about the accidnt until a boy came knocking on our door; he found the cat and used the address on the name tag to find the owner. When my mom arrived to the scene, she saw a pool of blood and the cat. Charlie was barely breathing; it tried to lick my mom and purr but died shortly aftewards. Every single bone in his body was broken. Now, I am extremely pissed at the mother fucker who was speeding

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