Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Rover, Come Over. And Over. And Over.

 

shutterstock_49355953Some years back, my father pulled me aside, Graduate-style and told me “Tom, I just want to plant an idea in your head: if you can ever invent something regarding dogs that’ll sell, we may never have to work again.”

Alas, for my family’s leisure and wealth, I have had no such insight. However, a biotech company in South Korea skipped past novel designs in chew toys, food, harnesses, and frisbees, and went straight for cloning. Their first cloned puppy was produced in 2005, but the process took hundreds of attempts and the founder was subsequently embroiled in a massive scandal involving his failed attempts to clone a human. In addition to publishing results that were outright fabrications (or close enough), he used secret government funding to purchase egg donations from his staff; he was stripped of his license, resigned his university post, and was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.

However, the dog cloning is apparently legit and the methodology has improved greatly since the early efforts 10 years ago. Now his lab can produce pregnancy rates for clones only slightly below what occurs in nature. And there are cloned dogs sniffing, barking, and bounding around wealthy Florida suburbs as we speak (there are also another 500+ throughout the world). The price? An even $100,000, which includes a guarantee, provided the genetic material is delivered to specifications. The real news here is that dog cloning appears to have crossed the threshold from proof-of-concept stunt into luxury commodity. And if the last few centuries have been any indication, yesterday’s luxuries for the rich often turn into everyday commodities for the rest of us.

But even if it weren’t for the firm’s ethical shadiness and price, I don’t think I’d be interested. Now, if someone came up with a treatment that extended dogs’ lives while preserving their health, that would be interesting. If you know any investment opportunities, I’m listening… the Meyers may yet get to retire early.

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  1. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Speaking as the owner of one wire fox terrier (the breed on your posting), as much as I love her I don’t think I could take three of her.

    • #1
    • September 30, 2015, at 12:06 PM PDT
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  2. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It is morally wrong to allow rich fools to keep their money.

    • #2
    • September 30, 2015, at 12:06 PM PDT
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  3. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    On the other hand, if he can do it for $100K, someone will do it for $50K, and the race will be on.

    UglyDog

    Quality control inevitably takes a hit.

    • #3
    • September 30, 2015, at 12:10 PM PDT
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  4. Casey Inactive

    Clone a dog, get a Snoop D-O-Double G

    Dogg

    • #4
    • September 30, 2015, at 12:18 PM PDT
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  5. David Knights Member

    Not sure why you’d want a clone of your pet. It isn’t the same animal, except in genetic structure. It doesn’t have your old pet’s memories. It isn’t guaranteed to behave the same.

    • #5
    • September 30, 2015, at 1:11 PM PDT
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  6. Arthur Beare Member

    Am I the only one who thinks that if they can do this routinely with dogs, they can do it with people?

    Yeah, there is a big moral difference between a dog and a human, but physiologically? (I am guessing) not so much.

    • #6
    • September 30, 2015, at 1:20 PM PDT
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  7. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Arthur Beare: Yeah, there is a big moral difference between a dog and a human, but physiologically? (I am guessing) not so much.

    From what I understand, the basic processes — there are a couple of different techniques — to clone any given mammal are similar, but the specifics vary from species to species. So, basically there’s no reason to suspect we won’t be able to clone a human, we just haven’t figured out the details.

    I’ll see if I can get the attention of one of our biologist members.

    • #7
    • September 30, 2015, at 1:31 PM PDT
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  8. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arthur Beare: Yeah, there is a big moral difference between a dog and a human, but physiologically? (I am guessing) not so much.

    The Puppies from Brazil.

    • #8
    • September 30, 2015, at 1:31 PM PDT
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  9. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeekaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve read that the cloned animal won’t necessarily look like the original, since the clone doesn’t always express the same genes. If I am correct, have they been able to address this problem?

    • #9
    • September 30, 2015, at 1:34 PM PDT
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  10. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    sawatdeeka:I’ve read that the cloned animal won’t necessarily look like the original, since the clone doesn’t always express the same genes. If I am correct…

    You are correct. A natural example of this is identical twins who don’t look identical (as most don’t, if you look carefully enough).

    ….have they been able to address this problem?

    I wonder if it’s necessary to. Again, see identical twins. They’re not perfectly identical, but close enough in many people’s eyes :-)

    • #10
    • September 30, 2015, at 3:00 PM PDT
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  11. Ann K Inactive

    Yawn. Texas A&M cloned several species, including a cat, years ago.

    • #11
    • September 30, 2015, at 4:42 PM PDT
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  12. MJBubba Inactive

    Additional information here:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/09/30/428927516/cloning-your-dog-for-a-mere-100-000

    sawatdeeka:I’ve read that the cloned animal won’t necessarily look like the original, since the clone doesn’t always express the same genes. If I am correct, have they been able to address this problem?

    From listening to the NPR story, I got the impression (it went unstated) that they would try again until they got what the customer wanted.

    Note that they would not answer the reporter’s question about what happened to dogs after their use in the program ended.

    • #12
    • September 30, 2015, at 7:15 PM PDT
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  13. Man With the Axe Member

    • #13
    • September 30, 2015, at 8:26 PM PDT
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  14. Katie O Inactive
    Katie OJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The first cloned cat came out tabby when the progenitor was calico (or vice versa), so they don’t necessarily look the same.
    The proteins needed for cell division are located in such a way in primate eggs that the process removes them (if I remember correctly) So, even though they are proficient enough to commercialize cloning other animals, they can’t quite get there with man. I hope this is by design. :)
    Sorry no links, such s pain on my phone.

    • #14
    • September 30, 2015, at 9:27 PM PDT
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  15. Katie O Inactive
    Katie OJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Double post

    • #15
    • September 30, 2015, at 9:30 PM PDT
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  16. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor

    If you were told that you’re to be hanged tomorrow — but not to worry, because you’ll be cloned — would that comfort you? So why on earth would anyone be comforted to have a cloned pet? It’s obviously not the animal you loved.

    • #16
    • October 1, 2015, at 12:26 AM PDT
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  17. Casey Inactive

    When I was little I had a stuffed Casey Jones dog that was my favorite. He had floppy ears. After many years of love his ears came off. My mom found an identical toy one day and brought it home for me. A new Casey. I didn’t care. The old Casey was the one I loved.

    • #17
    • October 1, 2015, at 4:15 AM PDT
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  18. Mendel Member
    MendelJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arthur Beare:Am I the only one who thinks that if they can do this routinely with dogs, they can do it with people?

    Yeah, there is a big moral difference between a dog and a human, but physiologically? (I am guessing) not so much.

    Basic principle is similar, but the details of implementation are different enough that the method can’t simply be transferred to humans. Each species/genus/family has very slight differences in cellular replication/fetal development which would require new protocols to be developed in a laborious process.

    Given our advances in understanding human genetics, however, I imagine that we would inevitably be able to master cloning of humans within a decade or so if we had hundreds of labs around the world competing on the task the way labs currently compete on developing technologies such as induced pluripotent stem cells or genome editing.

    But given the ethical qualms surrounding human cloning, it will probably be quite a while before it becomes a reality – this likely isn’t the type of thing one secret underground laboratory could put together.

    • #18
    • October 1, 2015, at 9:57 AM PDT
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  19. Man With the Axe Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:If you were told that you’re to be hanged tomorrow — but not to worry, because you’ll be cloned — would that comfort you? So why on earth would anyone be comforted to have a cloned pet? It’s obviously not the animal you loved.

    That’s true, but there are many characteristics of my dog that I love, and I’d clone him if it were within my means to do so.

    First, he’s beautiful. Next, he’s loving and friendly. Now, those latter qualities are a reflection of how I raised him, but his clone would benefit from the same upbringing, and would start with the same genetic material.

    I have a lot of friends who would like one of him. Maybe I should think of it as a business opportunity.

    Screen shot 2015-10-01 at 12.57.09 PM

    • #19
    • October 1, 2015, at 9:58 AM PDT
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  20. Mendel Member
    MendelJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    sawatdeeka:I’ve read that the cloned animal won’t necessarily look like the original, since the clone doesn’t always express the same genes. If I am correct, have they been able to address this problem?

    This gets to the phenomenon of epigenetics: even though two individual organisms may be genetically identical, an additional layer of semi-permanent alterations “on top” of the DNA may alter which genes actually get expressed when. This can cause two genetically identical individuals to be phenotypically different.

    To date there is still no (published) method of controlling epigenetic signatures on a genome-wide level, but given the breakneck pace of progress in the field it’s also probably just a matter of time before (at least some) traits such as fur color or pattern become completely controllable.

    • #20
    • October 1, 2015, at 10:02 AM PDT
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  21. Mendel Member
    MendelJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:So why on earth would anyone be comforted to have a cloned pet? It’s obviously not the animal you loved.

    I think there are a number of reasons, but the basic one is that people usually don’t love their pets the same way they love another human being (emphasis on “usually”), so cloning pets has a higher chance of being fulfilling.

    For instance, aside from dogs, most pets “personality” seems less associated with the individual animal than with a group of traits which is more or less genetically fixed. If and when cloning of animals becomes widespread, I would be interested to see if, say, a turtle owner could differentiate between their “original” turtle and a cloned one.

    Where I see an obvious market is for animals like racehorses. Think about how high stud fees are for prize horses, and yet that is still a crapshoot depending on the mother and which genes get passed along. Cloning the prizehorse takes that risk out of the equation.

    • #21
    • October 1, 2015, at 10:08 AM PDT
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  22. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Mendel: If and when cloning of animals becomes widespread, I would be interested to see if, say, a turtle owner could differentiate between their “original” turtle and a cloned one.

    I would be willing to participate in such an experiment.

    • #22
    • October 1, 2015, at 10:17 AM PDT
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