The first two cats cloned by chromatin transfer (CT), a new cloning technology, are healthy and normal after having been born June 10 and 12. Genetic Savings & Clone (GSC), the world's only pet gene banking and cloning company, produced the kittens as a precursor to production of the first batch of cat clones for the public.
The cloned kittens are genetic duplicates of Tahini, a 1-year-old female Bengal cat belonging to the 4-year-old son of GSC CEO Lou Hawthorne. The Bengal breed was developed in the 20th century by crossing small Asian Leopard Cats with domestic cats. The first of the two kittens, Tabouli, was born June 10 to a Tortoiseshell named Callie. The other kitten, Baba Ganoush, was born June 12 to a Lynx Point named Sunny. The company will exhibit the kittens and their genetic donor at cat shows and other public venues.
"It's a very exciting result," said GSC CEO Lou Hawthorne. "These two remarkable kittens should finally put to rest the issue of resemblance between clones and their genetic donors. When performed by a skilled team using sufficiently advanced technology, clones resemble their donors to an uncanny degree -- just as we predicted. It's a happy day for our clients."
"Our first attempts using the new CT cloning technology were very successful," said GSC Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Irina Polejaeva, "Which suggests that the new method is everything we hoped it would be."
Chromatin transfer (CT) involves pre-treating the cell of the animal to be cloned to remove molecules associated with cellular differentiation. The technology is more advanced than nuclear transfer (NT), the method used to clone Dolly the sheep and most other animal clones. CT has been shown in various animal studies to be more efficient than NT, and to result in healthier animals. GSC holds an exclusive license to use CT for cloning pets.
Since Genetic Savings & Clone was founded in 2000, the company has banked the DNA of hundreds of animals. GSC-funded research resulted in the world's first cloned cat, CC, in 2001. In February 2004 GSC began its commercial cat cloning service. The company will be cloning just nine cats in 2004, three belonging to company staff and six for clients. Five of the six commercial cloning spots have been sold and one remains available. GSC plans to deliver the clones to its clients at the end of this year, and to launch commercial dog cloning services in 2005.