Cloning – it has been a favorite topic in Hollywood in the 80s and 90s. Many sci-fi movies had come up with this concept. Probably, the clone, Dolly the sheep, helped in forming this theory that we can clone human beings too. Well, as of now, we have not been able to clone humans, but we have closed animals. And Sinogene can be called quite the master of it.
Sinogene is a pet cloning company based in Beijing. It has already engaged in the cloning of over 40 pet dogs which also includes the first police pup of the world. So, when Huang Yu was devastated by the death of his British shorthair feline, Garlic, he chose to have a clone of it. Garlic was just 2.5 years old.
In general, the pet cloning process used is quite new. It is called the somatic cell cloning technique. On top of being new, it is quite challenging, especially to clone a cat. Cats have physiological and reproductive characteristics which are not the same as other animals. They are not spontaneous ovulation animals. Cats happen to be in the rare group of the ovulation-inducing animals as per Shi Zhensheng, a veterinarian. Their special reproductive system makes the cloning process difficult. It has been tried before and it has a very low success rate, making China’s success a landmark achievement.
It took almost a year for the scientists to isolate the embryo and transfer it to a surrogate cat. This surrogate cat carried this kitten for about 66 days. 21st July, 2019 turned out to be Garlic’s birth date. According to the scientists observing Garlic 2.0, Garlic 2.0 was doing well and was acting as if it was a natural kitten.
The whole pet cloning procedure was quite costly, fetching a tag of 250,000 yuan or around 35,000 dollars, as per Agence France-Presse. But Yu just wanted his feline friend back. He mentioned that he will call it Garlic because he feels like this clone is just a continuation of the real Garlic. He does miss the original Garlic but then, the same genes are present in Garlic 2.0. Yu is someone who believes in the individuality of cats too, so he knows this cat will have a different personality.
According to the company, about 22 million Chinese residents raise cats. That totals to around 40 million pet cats. If even a few among them are willing to give tens of thousands of dollars to get a clone, then the cloning industry will thrive. Last year, China was able to clone two macaque monkeys. A South Korean lab can clone a dog for about 100,000 dollars. Researchers are even trying to clone the mammoth and scientists in Siberia are cloning a 40,000-year-old fossil too.
Cloning of endangered and domestic animals are well in the plans of many scientists. Maybe the sci-fi future will soon be here.
Image Credit: Sinogene
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