When Barbra Streisand told Variety magazine that cloned their dog for $ 50 000, many for the first time found out that the copy of Pets and other animals — it’s real. Yes, you read that right: you can pay for the cloning of dogs, horses or beloved bull and get a live copy in a few months. The story, which I still get goose bumps going about monni mast, a photographer from Michigan who paid to have a clone of Billy Beane, Labrador Retriever, owned by her eldest daughter MIA.
10 years ago, MIA has committed suicide. For cloning of mast elderly dogs means keeping the memory of a living daughter, to “protect” her.
In the cloning process must have received the updates, including the sonogram of a growing puppy. Timeline was full of strange coincidences. Veterinarians recorded the heartbeat of the clone of the birthday of MIA, October 11. The puppy was born in November, the same month that MIA killed herself.
“It’s a sign. For me it is a sign that MIA is involved in this all and knows everything,” said mast.
At this point the head should ring alarming bells. Mast not just clone a pet. She is trying to save a lost child. This scenario scares the closeness to real human cloning, in which a heartbroken parent trying to replace your precious daughter, who died early.
So, should we start worrying about human cloning? Jose Cibelli who studies animal cloning at the University of Michigan, thinks so. Resounding “Yes.”
Next is a story of a journalist MIT Technology Review.
To learn to shudder
I met Cibelli 15 years ago, at the peak of the hype about cloning. Then it seemed possible to create a copy of a person at any time. There were loud statements from the Italian doctor by the name Antinori, who allegedly tried to implement it, and the UFO cult — Raelian — which allegedly created a company, Clonaid human cloning. The media did not distinguish between prank and reality, so in the public consciousness leaked story about the creation of a cloned baby named eve. In 2002, the National Academy released an emergency report on this subject.
But human cloning has never happened. The reason is obvious in retrospect. The procedure of cloning, such as that which was used to create Dolly the sheep in 1996, scientists took an adult cell and introduced it into the egg, associated with her own DNA. The result is a clone embryo.
But this process is extremely inefficient. Among the many animals, only one of the hundreds of cloned embryos can survive. Some embryos die in the IVF dish. Other cease to exist in the womb. Of those who were able to be born, many die from abnormalities.
Would you like to “shocked” to learn what can happen if people will be cloned using modern methods, wrote in an article in the New York Times in 2001.
However, the cloning of cattle and pet dogs is underway. Because the egg can be collected in large enough quantities so that companies could cope with the internal inefficiency of the technology. A bad clone is just a cost of business.
Today, the problem of cloning is studied much better than it was then. To a skin cell was a skin cell, it does not need a complete set of genes. So many simply lacking. The reason that cloning works at all, is that the egg has a remarkable ability to bring genes back into the process of reprogramming. But in the egg there are only a few hours on it, and some genes resist.
These resisting genes that are blocked and can not play a role in the development of the embryo, considered to be “responsible for the demise of the clones”, says Cibelli.
How has cloning in twenty years?
Cibelli notes the work of Zhang Yi, a stem cell biologist in Boston children’s hospital. He said that Zhang picked up a chemical, which when added to the egg helps to release blocked genes.
In the hands of Zhang the addition of these “modifiers” led to a significant improvement in cloning — the destruction of barriers that are present in adult cells. Zhang first tested them on mice. According to him, instead of 1% of the cloned embryos that grew before, now they have 10%.
“The increase in efficiency is striking,” says Zhang, who, of course, has patented his discovery.
Then Zhang tested this process on human eggs. In 2015, his team hired four women who provided the egg from the ovaries. They entered the skin cells of other people.
Without molecules, releasing the gene, the cloned embryos did not develop properly. With the modifiers the same for about a quarter of them did so. “We tried to destroy the barriers in adult cells,” he says. “The result: otherwise, we would have failed”.
To be very clear, Zhang is not going to make babies. Its goal is the cloning of embryos the size of a speck for the sake of their stem cells. The so-called “therapeutic cloning” is a method of creating powerful embryonic stem cells genetically identical to the cells of an adult — say as a substitute of fabric.
Therapeutic cloning isn’t a new idea. Cibelli and he first tried it (and failed) fifteen years ago. After the failure of scientists have turned to other ways of creating stem cells by reprogramming skin cells in a laboratory. Suddenly, however, the cloning of stem cells was not so tough. For sufficiently high effectiveness, doctors could use them to create tissue for people in need, Zhang says. He created the company NewStem, which started to sell cloned stem cells.
“Previously, it was theoretically possible, but had to use a lot of eggs that impractical,” says Zhang. “Now, thanks to the efficiency, it is translated into reality”.
We can perfectly clone human embryos. Should we go further and raise children from these embryos? In January 2018 Chinese scientists have cloned our brothers in the animal world — monkeys — for the first time in history. Pictures of two lovely primates, Chong Chong and Hua Hua, quickly spread around the world.
Why China has succeeded where all others have failed? Answer: they are used for enhancing the effectiveness of the molecules of Zhang.
Not all problems however were solved. China has managed to create animals, starting with the skin cells of an aborted fetus of a monkey. But the other two clone made from cells of an adult animal died soon after birth. Why two monkeys died, no one reveals. But the high probability that this is due to incomplete reprogramming of adult cells.
According to Zhang, would be crazy and impractical (and illegal) attempt to clone a human. Despite the higher efficiency, the Chinese team used 63 surrogate mother and 417 eggs to make two clones of the monkey. Just imagine how long it will take surrogates among the people to egg donors.
“No society will not do,” Zhang says. “On the other hand, if you ask me: is it possible to increase efficiency even more, I will answer “Yes.” I answer, that in the end, from a technological point of view, the human cloning will be possible.”
The creation of human clones — the question is not only technical. For this reason, experts who are willing to help and sponsor.
The involvement of billionaires may be the easiest part of the puzzle. In March, CBS made a story about La Dolfina, the Argentine team playing in Polo, where players ride on copies of the same horse. The businessman, who came up with the idea to clone a horse, a Texas businessman Alan Meeker said that “the richest people on this planet turned to him with a request to clone a human”. Meeker refused. The reason? No one told him why they needed a clone.
But one reason we know. Perhaps the strongest of all. When I spoke to the photographer of the mast, she spoke about the devastation associated with the suicide of her daughter.
Mast left the dog MIA, Billy Beane, and she decided to clone it when the dog that’s turned 14. “I was afraid that all lead to the fact that I will forget the MIA that I was ready to forget it,” says mast. “I thought that here-here will lose the dog, and absolutely desperate. And then it hit me: Oh my God, I’m her clone! I was in despair.”
Mast turned to the vet who took a sample of the dog’s skin and sent it to the company PerPETuate. For $ 1300 PerPETuate prepared a series of cells from the skin of the dog and kept the cells in liquid nitrogen for future cloning. This service is, in fact, an inexpensive way to preserve animal DNA in case you decide to shell out $ 50,000 for cloning. The founder PerPETuate Ron Gillespie says that stores frozen tissue of dogs, cats and even a lion from a Mexican zoo. Mast — not the only one who decided to clone the dog belonging to the dead child, he says. However, the company does not save cells people. No dead relatives, no one else.
Billy Beane and her clone Gunny
“We have a lot of queries,” says Gillespie. “I answer that we do not do so. And when people put pressure on me, asking where they can do it, I answer that I do not know. I just completely reject such. Most of all we worry that it could lead to cloning of people, and people are very ill-disposed towards this, including me.”
Cell Billy Beane went to Pets ViaGen, a Texas company that provides services cloning. In September 2017, the mast learned that cloned embryos Billy Beane was transferred into a surrogate dog. Two months later she chose a new puppy. The dog “was the real soul and everything that was my daughter — the fun, the friendliness, the kindness of people towards her and pulled,” she says. “I feel left tactile communication, not only with spiritual”.
And I finally asked mast: cloned she would be MIA if I had the chance?
She said she could not answer this question. “When you have a child dies, you unsettling. You can’t make a rational decision.”
In fact, it recognizes that people have decided that she “crossed the line” when I decided to clone the dog. “It was a desperate attempt on my part. My other daughter decided that I’m crazy. But it worked”.