Human Exceptionalism

Scientists Clone Frozen Mice

Scientists have been able to clone mice that have been dead for up to sixteen years. From the story:

Japanese scientists have cloned mice whose bodies were frozen for as long 16 years and said on Monday it may be possible to use the technique to resurrect mammoths and other extinct species. Mouse cloning expert Teruhiko Wakayama and colleagues at the Center for Developmental Biology, at Japan’s RIKEN research institute in Yokohama, managed to clone the mice even though their cells had burst. “Thus, nuclear transfer techniques could be used to ‘resurrect’ animals or maintain valuable genomic stocks from tissues frozen for prolonged periods without any cryopreservation,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hmmm. Should we interfere with evolution by trying to bring back extinct species? Not sure about that.

But I do know that eventually scientists will want to turn these technologies at the human race:

Wakayama’s team dug out some mice that had been kept frozen for years and whose cells were indisputably damaged. Freezing causes cells to burst and can damage the DNA inside. Chemicals called cryoprotectants can prevent this but they must be used before the cells are frozen.

They tried using cells from several places and discovered that the brains worked best. This is a bit of a mystery, as no one has yet cloned any living mouse from a brain cell.

Many animals have been cloned, starting with sheep, and including pigs, cattle, mice and dogs. Livestock breeders want to use cloning to start elite herds of desirable animals, and doctors want to use cloning technology in human medicine.

“There is hope in bringing Ted Williams back, after all,” cloning and stem cell expert John Gearhart of the University of Pennsylvania said in an e-mail. The family of Williams, the Boston Red Sox hitter, had his body frozen by cryogenics firm Alcor after he died in 2002.

Gearhart was only half-joking and said the study “may now stimulate the small industry of freezing parts of us before we die to bring us back in the future.”

Of course “we” wouldn’t be back, it would be our near-identical twins who would be their own individuals. I am beginning to be glad I won’t be here one hundred years from now.

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