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Clone is not a true copy cat

Rainbow the cat is a typical calico with splotches of brown, tan and gold on white. CC, her clone, has a striped gray coat over white. The experiment just shows that a clone will not necessarily act or even look like the original.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2003 16:40 IST

Rainbow the cat is a typical calico with splotches of brown, tan and gold on white. CC, her clone, has a striped gray coat over white.

Rainbow is reserved. CC is curious and playful. Rainbow is chunky. CC is sleek.

Sure, you can clone your favourite cat. But the copy will not necessarily act or even look like the original.

CC (for carbon copy) is just over a year old. Her birth on December 22, 2001, was news when it was announced last February because it was the first time a household pet had been cloned.

CC's creation was funded by Genetic Savings & Clone, a company that hopes to make money from people's desires to duplicate their favourite pets. Last February, in Nature, Texas A&M researchers published details of the project and DNA test results that showed CC was a clone.

But people who hope cloning will resurrect a pet will be disappointed, said Duane Kraemer, one of A&M's animal cloning experts.

Experts say environment is as important as genes in determining personality. And having the same DNA doesn't always produce the same coat pattern.

"This vindicates the position we espoused from the beginning, that cloning does not lead to duplication," said Wayne Pacelle, senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States.

Before the birth of CC, Genetic Savings & Clone had hundreds of pet DNA samples stored at a cost of $895 for healthy animals and $1,395 for sick or dead animals. Lou Hawthorne, Genetic Savings & Clone chief executive, has estimated that the cost to create a clone will initially be in the low five figures and later drop to the low four figures.

More research is needed to figure out how to produce consistently healthy clones before the company can start doing it commercially, said the firm’s spokesman.

First Published: Jan 23, 2003 16:40 IST