It’s a good day for science and science fiction when Harold Ramis’ Multiplicity can finally be proven to be complete bullshit. And I’m not talking about Andie MacDowell’s complete lack of common sense as that film goes on. I’m talking about Michael Keaton’s clone-of-a-clone having the mental capacity of a child. Wait, why am I even talking about this movie? I need to ask Nick #1 if this paragraph is even relevant.
Kobe, Japan is the location of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, which has housed 581 very unusual mice. They are all clones of a single mouse, created through 25 sessions of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SNCT), a commonly performed technique for this particular task. It involves inserting a nucleus containing an individual’s genetic coding into a living egg whose nucleus has been removed. Before the RIKEN team began their landmark work in 2005, the limitation of SNCT dictated that cloning mammals beyond two to six times would not end successfully.
“One possible explanation for this limit on the number of recloning attempts is an accumulation of genetic or epigenetic abnormalities over successive generations,” posits Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama, who led the study, which was published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
Working around actually messing with the DNA itself, the team injected trichostatin, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, to the cell culture medium. This resulted in “no epigenetic or genetic abnormalities in the mice, even after repeated cloning,” said Dr. Wakayama. “This technique could be very useful for the large-scale production of superior-quality animals, for farming or conservation purposes.”
While there were some minute changes in some of the mice, they all still lived the normal two-year lifespan. Before too much longer, we’ll probably be able to print 3-D cloning machines that will clone and manipulate the DNA found in microbes discovered beneath Antarctica, and bang, zoom, to the moon we’ll need to go to get away from the unending horde of insectile death merchants. Michael Keaton’s Batman clone would have put a stop to this already.