I’m going to set up a line of chairs around the room, just in case anyone feels the need to squeal and jump on top of one of them once this story starts. Wearing long flowing dresses and carrying a broom are both optional.
While it’s known that mice can be cloned from many different donor cell sources, including bone marrow, lymph nodes and the liver, researchers at the Riken BioResource Center in Tsukuba, Japan investigated whether or not circulating blood cells could possibly serve the same purpose. Their goal was to find a source of donor cells that was easily available and didn’t end with the donor animal needing to be euthanised. Cloning valuable lab mice works a lot better when you don’t have to off the mouse whose initial value guided the experiment. And amazingly, the cloning was a success! (Squeal!)
Team leader Atsuo Ogura used blood from the donor mouse’s tail and went through a process known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, where nuclei is extracted from isolated adult white blood cells and injected into a non-fertilized egg with its nucleus previously removed. Remember Dolly the sheep, the well-preserved mammoth and the Tasmanian tiger? It’s the same scenario, though Dolly was the only one of those three to be successfully cloned. For now! (ominous piano stab) The team’s study was recently published in the journal Biology of Reproduction.
“The efficiency of cloning from these cell types was very good,” Ogura told BBC News, “suggesting that even a small drop of blood will contain sufficient numbers…this is helpful if the intention is to use cloning to propagate and expand numbers of rare or valuable types of individual or species.” Their work strengthens their goal of starting up “large-scale production of high-quality animals for farming or conversation purposes.” That phrasing may be one of the most off-putting things I’ve heard in a while, and would no doubt have the ASPCA up in arms. Only Japan doesn’t listen to their bullshit, so all is well.
Another Riken team recently cloned 25 generations of mice – 600 in all – from a single mouse, so it doesn’t take much to imagine where the world might be in ten years, where action movies will revolve around “Pied Pipers,” the most powerful men in the lands. Sure, it’s all for research purposes now, but what about when somebody liberates all these animals by letting them loose upon the world. What then???