Sept. 17, 2009
A U.S. company is backing out of the dogfight over cloning dogs, but leaving behind some interesting kibbles and bits about the cloning business. BioArts International, associated with disgraced cloner Woo-Suk Hwang, has announced it is ending its pet cloning business. BioArts had been in a patent dispute with South Korean cloning firm RNL Bio, started by some of Hwang's colleagues.
BioArts has issued a press release detailing why they are getting out of the dog cloning business. While most of the reasoning is financial and related to the competition with RNL Bio, there are some shocking revelations related to dog cloning, and perhaps the cloning process in general.
Under reason #4, titled "Unscalable Bioethics", the numbers of dogs necessary for the cloning process:
"At current cloning efficiencies, an average of twelve dogs are needed as donors and recipients to produce a singled cloned puppy."
This certainly validates what many have noted about cloning in general, regarding the abysmal inefficiency of the cloning technique (there are also unpleasant revelations about what happens to the unfortunate castoff dogs...)
Perhaps more disturbing is the news under reason #5, titled "Unpredictable Results", regarding numerous "anomalies" in clones:
"Unfortunately, in addition to producing and delivering numerous perfectly healthy dog clones, weve also seen several strange anomalies in cloned offspring. One clone which was supposed to be black and white was born greenish-yellow where it should have been white. Others have had skeletal malformations, generally not crippling though sometimes serious and always worrisome. One clone of a male donor was actually born female (we still have no good explanation for how that happened). These problems are all the more worrisome given that cloning is supposedly a mature technology in general..."
Worrisome indeed, and not just regarding dogs or born clones, but for any attempt to use SCNT cloning technology.