An announcement of the cloning of the first pet, in the form of a kitten named "CC" (short for Carbon Copy), by researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M, has given new hope to pet owners hoping to memorialize their pets forever. While this cloning breakthrough is of amazing medical importance, it also brings to rise the ongoing controversy over the ethics of cloning.
CC was born on December 22, 2001, and Aggie officials waited until genetic identity could be verified through DNA analysis before making the Valentine Day announcement. (They also wanted to wait until the kitten had been through its shots series and its immune system was fully developed.)
Dr. Mark Westhusin, lead investigator on the project, said, "cc is developing normally for a kitten its age and appears healthy." A DNA analysis confirmed cc is a clone, i.e. a genetic copy of the donor." He went on to say that "future scientific advances resulting from the successful cloning of the cat are expected."
Aggie researchers have previously cloned a Brahma bull, a Boer goat, and a disease-resistant Angus bull, with the latest successful clone prior to CC being litters of cloned piglets. Veterinarians at the College of Veterinary Medicine had been working on the $3.7 million "Missyplicity" project, an effort to clone a mixed breed dog named "Missy," funded by Genetics Savings & Clone, a commercial enterprise which hopes to capitalize on the cloning of pets, when it was found that dogs' cells were more resistant to cloning than those of cats. "Operation Copycat" was the result of this discovery, and CC was the end product, although certainly just the first of her kind.
The Genetics Savings & Clone makes no secret of their intention of using this breakthrough for commercial profit, but states that they do so within certain ethical guidelines. Their press release information discloses:
- In exchange for funding the research, GSC holds an exclusive option to license this technology for commercial purposes - and also developed the ethical protocols governing the research we sponsor at A&M as well as our internal protocols .
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