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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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  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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]

  • Worth it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rathian (187923) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:40PM (#11169439)
    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 diminishes the unique treasures our beloved pets are. If I had my old cat cloned - I would've expected him to be the same old friend I knew for all those years. That is a disservice to him and who he could become the next time around. It was his lifes experiences as they happened that molded him into the cat I knew.

    Conversely, if he turned out EXACTLY the same as he had before in terms of personality - is the general public ready to face the potential spiritual implications that carries? Thta is a pretty deep philisophical question with theological overtones.
  • 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.
  • by dAzED1 (33635) 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.

  • by scotay (195240) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @02:02PM (#11169694)
    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 have much to learn and the quest for cloning will help teach, but clones to date have genetic/epigentic states that have never existed in nature and do not go through the normal checks and balances that sexual selection provides.
  • by FictionPimp (712802) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @02:39PM (#11170143) Homepage
    So your saying I need to work at walmart?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2004 @05:37PM (#11171897)
    This would let you alter your pet and then you could train, test, and weed out the subpar until you were left with only the best, and then have them cloned, and let them breed. You could let a dog live out it's entire life to see if it had any hip problems, or how old it ended up living, or how well it does with children, and then clone the dog and use it to breed (possibly with another dog that died twenty years before this one was born)

    Breeding merely for show appearance has ruined many a blood-line. Interbreeding has caused a lot of genetic defects.

    Perhaps people would neuter more often if the process was "reversible"

    Apparently, you need to collect and save that DNA early.

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