Companion animal cloning dies at Texas A&M
While there have been pregnancies, researchers with the university's veterinary college have failed to successfully copy project financier John Sperling's now-deceased dog, Missy. As a result, the billionaire pulled the college's funding last October, spurring layoffs in favor of salvaging the work at Genetic Savings & Clone (GSC), his private company on a mission to make money cloning pets. What's more, a year after Texas A&M researchers made news cloning the world's first cat, the now-adult copy, Cc, hardly resembles its original - a detail likely to deter would-be clients from hiring GSC to duplicate their own pet.
Little incentive to clone? Company spokesman Ben Carlson blames differences in the clone's appearance on researchers' decision to copy a calico, a cat in which even identical genetic code rarely expresses the same coat pattern and colors. While Cc dons a striped gray coat over white, its original, Rainbow, has brown, tan and gold markings.
On the other hand, the differences could be a blessing.
"Their appearance underscores that cloning is not resurrection," he adds. "A clone will never have the same personality as your lost pet."
"Pet owners who want to clone are motivated by pleasure and memories," he says. "Anyone gene banking with us is doing so on faith that commercial cat and dog cloning will one day be possible."
"We're still going to do some stem cell work, using the same technology not to produce offspring but to produce stem cells," he says. "We're also concentrating on the reprogramming of the nucleus."
As for Cc's and Rainbow's effect on pet cloning, Kraemer says: "I suppose it does negatively impact people who made the wrong assumptions about clones. It's too early to know if pet cloning even has a place in the market or to what extent consumers will want to make use of it.
"I guess all that doesn't matter right now. Our project's over. It's ended."