Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bring In Your Dead!

And clone them! Scientists in Japan have cloned mice dead and frozen for sixteen years. Coming up: the Wooly Mammoth, stuff trapped in amber, Walt Disney. The New Scientist has the story, excerpted here [emphasis mine]:
Healthy mice have been cloned from cells from dead mice that had been frozen for 16 years, raising the possibility that endangered species could be cloned from old carcasses that have been tossed in freezers, rather than from living cells frozen using elaborate techniques.

The finding also raises hopes of one day being able to resurrect extinct animals frozen in permafrost, such as the woolly mammoth, . . .

. . .

Despite the excitement surrounding the technique, more research will be needed before it can be used on endangered species, . . . .

What's more, most conservationists agree that cloning should be considered only as a last resort for species such as the northern white rhino, where all other attempts at conservation have failed, says Paul Bartels, manager of BioBankSA at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in Pretoria. Nonetheless, he says, he will be asking biologists to start freezing the bodies of endangered species that have died.

"We intend to bring this [finding] to the attention of as many biologists working on endangered species as possible, through circulars, e-mail, newsletters, and talks," he says. . . .

Resurrecting extinct animals would be far trickier. Woolly mammoth carcasses would most likely have frozen and thawed several times over the aeons, which would cause far more damage to the nucleus than a one-off freezing.

Potentially easier would be cloning cryogenically frozen humans, though the consensus among cloning experts is that it would be unethical and dangerous to clone a human. In any case, people who sign up to be cryogenically preserved usually hope to be resuscitated rather than cloned.

Whom to clone, whom to clone (please note grammar). . . . Here's a preliminary list:
Lenin. Hey, these days this guy would be a maverick.
John McCain. Don't you think he's kind of frozen. Maybe his clone would have another chance. Maybe his clone would be a Democrat!
Walt Disney. D'Oh! Turns out he wasn't frozen.
Coming Soon
  • Have Your Say: Vote for Candidate Clonees. And . . .
  • Whom do we freeze for future cloning? And . . .
  • Would you want to be cloned?
The New Scientist | BBC | The Guardian

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