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The Dog Came Back

July 25, 2009

Brit Trogen

Science in Seconds blog Brit Trogen

In early 2009, BioArts International cloned five puppies from the DNA of a 9/11 "hero dog" as the conclusion to their Most Cloneworthy Dog in the World competition. Quite the publicity stunt... but it raises some issues.

Because besides the fact that it takes hundreds of unsuccessful attempts to create one living clone, even cloned animals that appear to be perfectly healthy often end up having major health issues in later life.

The reasons for this aren't yet known. If you copy the DNA from an animal that lived a healthy life, shouldn't history repeat itself? Is God smiting down the evil clones, or is something else going on?

Cloning involves three "mother" animals: one to provide an empty egg, one to give the DNA you want copied, and one to birth the offspring. This is a far cry from natural conception, so it's possible the procedure itself could be causing the problems.

The original DNA could also be the problem -- If there are any harmful mutations in the original animal they might be passed directly to the clone, speeding the onset of genetic diseases.

But whatever the reason, consumers should think carefully about the consequences before jumping in. Do you really want Fido back, if Fido V.2 will get cancer within a few years, leaving your wallet $100,000 lighter?

And the companies that offer to clone your pet probably don't care about clone longevity, so long as they get paid up front.

Just something to think about.

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