Re-Up Your Pup: Clone Your Pet And Be Best Friends Forever!

It's a question that's been on humanity's mind since the success of Dolly the sheep.  What if man's best friend (or some genetically-accurate approximation thereof) could stay with him for the duration of the human's longer life?  Now, thanks to cloning, you may be able to have a couple of copies of Fido to follow you through life's long walk.

According to businessweek.com, the Sooam facility in South Korea is the world's only doggie-doubling company, where for $100,000 your precious pooch can live on.  It only requires a somatic cell sample from the original donor dog, which scientists cryogenically freeze while a surrogate dog is prepared for pregnancy.  Immature ovum (oocytes) are flushed from the prospective parent-dog, then the somatic cells are injected into the ennucleated (nucleus-removed) oocytes.  The donor cells and egg are fused by electricity into a new embryo, and then implanted into the surrogate.  Shortly thereafter, your best friend is back!

Fresh piles of wrinkles...it's like reverse plastic surgery!
(Image courtesy nature.com.)

The process, which was perfected by geneticist Dr. Hwang Woo Suk, has been applied over 550 times since Hwang's first successful attempt in 2005.  Specialty dogs like Tibetan mastiffs and capable police dogs are popular pups, but next year the Sooam company will be expanding to help grow other animals like beef cows and pigs.  The process is the same one that was used to create Dolly the sheep in 1996 (as well as a veritable ark of animals since), and the patent for the process is leased to Hwang from the US company ViaGen.
A whole squad of murderdogs can be yours!
(Image courtesy sciencefocus.com.)

The Sooam team is currently able to produce 150-200 cloned critters per year, and has captivated clients from veterinarians to Middle Eastern royalty.  One customer even missed his Catahoula leopard dog Melvin so much that he had two of his doting doggies recreated.  However, it is not just canine companionship that drives the company.  Sooam regenerates dogs for scientific testing as well, creating critters with diabetes or Alzheimer's disease so that testing and research may alleviate these diseases (while operating in the comfortable confines of a well-controlled experiment.)

No cure has yet been found for the common pug.  They're just always going to be goofy like that.
(Image courtesy dogintonpost.com.)

Hwang doesn't want to stop at just a few species, either.  He has been working to clone rare animals like tigers and ibex, and possibly even to reboot extinct creatures like a woolly mammoth (whose frozen cells he believes could be made to gestate in a surrogate elephant.)  And of course, there's the ultimate goal: a handmade human.  “We will keep knocking on the doors,” Hwang says, “not only in South Korea but also in other countries, until we can continue our human stem cell research.”

While the pets are pleasant, there's a world of creatures to concoct.  So how long until we can have disciplined domestic dinosaurs instead of dogs?

Until then, this will have to do.
(Image courtesy amazon.com.)


2 comments: