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‘True’ cloned kittens born


Two peas in a pod? Tabouli and Baba Ganoush,
the cloned kittens born in June to surrogate mothers

TWO CLONED kittens have been born using a new procedure that could lead to the production of replica pets, a leading American cloning company announced late last week.

The kittens, named Tabouli and Baba Ganoush, carry similar markings to the adult female cat from whose cells they were cloned — suggesting that it may be possible to produce almost exact copies of favourite animals.

When ‘CC’, the first cloned cat, was born two years ago, her colour and markings were very different from those of her biological mother, a Tortoiseshell raising doubts as to whether cloning could create replica pets.

Genetic Savings and Clone, (GSC) the company behind the births, said that a new technique known as chromatin transfer may have solved this problem. The two kittens were born to surrogate mothers at the company’s facility in Sausalito, California, in June. GSC, which is 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 – scheduled for this November - under their ‘First Nine Lives’ cloning ‘lottery’, as reported in February of this year.

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 Tabby 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.

Genetic Savings and Clone say they are on track to produce the world’s first cloned dog as part of their long-running ‘Missiplicity’ project.