"In my heart Garlic is irreplaceable ... but he was unable to have heirs, so I decided to clone him".
I will continue to report the name Garlic for the cloned kitten: the idea of a cat called Garlic strangles me, even if for a Chinese it is a thaumaturgical thing.
For pet owners, losing a furry friend can be devastating. Today, technological advances offer the possibility of having these faithful friends alongside you for longer, cloning them.
The NYT reports the story of 22-year-old Huang Yu, who recently decided to bring back his beloved Garlic, a gray and white kitten who died at the age of two of a urinary tract infection.
The first cloned cat in Chinese history came out, and of course his name is Garlic.
To create double his kitten, Huang hired Sinogene, an animal cloning company based in Beijing. Sinogene has already successfully cloned more than 40 dogs of different species, both for individuals and for medical research purposes.
The most noteworthy clone was a puppy of the Kunming wolfdog, a widespread breed in China. Little Kunxun, this is his name, is the replica of a famous Chinese police dog, a sort of Rex with almond eyes. The idea was to reproduce a specimen of extraordinary intelligence to allow the department to spend much less time and money on training.
It is not cheap
The Sinogene procedure has a considerable price: cloning a dog costs the owner an average of $ 53000, while a cat is more “accessible” and costs $ 35000.
The difference is due to the longer "culture" time that a dog's eggs have compared to those of a cat.
IFLScience notes that beyond the timing it is the cloning of cats to be more complex because its physiological and reproductive characteristics are different from those of other mammals.
"The reproductive cycle of cats is special, and cloning techniques are more difficult," says the vet Shi Zhensheng in a Sinogene press release. "The cloning of Garlic is one of the few successful cases in the world" (on Futuroprossimo you will find at least one more).
To get Garlic 2.0 out, the Sinogene team extracted skin cells from the original cat (jealously guarded in the freezer by its owner) and implanted them in the eggs of other cats.
The embryos obtained from this procedure were then implanted in 4 surrogate mothers. This resulted in 3 pregnancies: two ended in abortion and one gave birth to Garlic. In all, the cloned kitten took 7 months to process.
Image Credit: Well Pet Coach
It may seem like a long time, but it attests to Chinese advances in genetics. Of course, this rapid growth also reflects the absence of any legal barrier in China and the consequent rush to exploit a science that has great potential for profit.
A market research by the Gouminwang agency shows the rapid rise in the popularity of cats in China (another “motivator” of Sinogene's choices). China's pet market will reach € 28 billion this year: there are already 55 million (domestic) dogs and 44 million cats around the country. Garlic joins them. By the way! Here it is in action:
In the first meeting between the "revived" cat and its owner, Huang noticed a detail. The kitten was NOT EXACTLY like its predecessor. This is because, while the genetic heritage of the cat is identical to that of its 'original', the physical appearance may present some small differences in the color of the hair or eyes.
Chinese cloned cat but it's not the same ... I know what you're thinking.
"If I told you I'm not sorry I would lie to you," Huang says about his cloned kitten. "But I accept that there are some situations where technology needs to take some steps forward."
WaistYes, Mi Jidong, the CEO of Sinogene intends to accomplish, for example, to clone endangered species such as the Chinese panda and others.
In his ambitious statements there is also the intention to exploit artificial intelligence to transfer memories from the original animal to the destination animal.