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Researchers in Texas have cloned a domestic cat, producing a two-month-old kitten called CopyCat.
The work is described in the scientific journal Nature and is the first time anyone has cloned a pet.
CopyCat, or Cc for short, is a copy of her genetic mother, not of the tabby surrogate cat that actually gave birth to her.
The cloned cat "appears healthy and energetic", say researchers at Texas A & M University.
The Texas laboratory has already cloned a pig, bull and goat. Work is underway to clone a dog.
Mark Westhusin, a member of the cloning team, said there were serious scientific reasons for cloning a cat.
Dr Westhusin said: "Cats have a feline AIDS that is a good model for studying human AIDS."
May 31, 1999 - AP - Wash.
The small club of clones, restricted until now to females like Dolly the sheep and Cumulina the mouse, has gone co-ed with the cloning of a male mouse, researchers said on Monday.
"Fibro" is also the first documented, live mammal cloned from adult cells that do not originate in the reproductive system, which suggests that adult animals can be cloned from any cell in the body at all.
Ryuzo Yanagimachi and Teruhiko Wakayama at the University of Hawaii say the technique is still tricky -- they only got one living mouse out of 274 tries -- but Fibro seems healthy and normal.
"He fathered two perfectly normal litters as of Monday (Thursday)," Yanagimachi said in an interview conducted by e-mail. "He is active and healthy."
Male animals have been cloned before, but only using fetal cells, which are much easier to clone because of their early stage of development.
A Japanese agricultural research institute also said it cloned a calf from the ear of an adult, but the research was not published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal -- the standard for science.
It is much harder to clone animals from adult cells -- Dolly, some Japanese heifers and Cumulina, the cloned mouse presented to the world by Yanagimachi and Wakayama last year, are rare examples.
They were made using cells related to reproduction -- Dolly from the mammary gland cell of a ewe and Cumulina from so-called cumulus cells, which nurture developing eggs inside the ovaries.
So many scientists had believed that there might be something unique about females, or perhaps even female reproductive cells, that made them amenable to cloning.
Wakayama and Yanagimachi, writing in the journal Nature Genetics, said it is now clear this is not the case. "Our results demonstrate that cloning using adult somatic cells is not restricted to female or reproductive cells," they wrote.
Using their "Honolulu technique", which differs slightly from the method that scientists in Scotland used to make Dolly, they created 274 mouse embryos using skin clipped from the tail of a male mouse and implanted them into surrogate mother mice.
"Only three of 274 transferred embryos reached full term," they wrote. "Three mice from tail-tip cells were born alive, all of them males with black eyes." Two died but one lived to adulthood and was the same reddish-brown color as the mouse whose tail was clipped.
The experiment means it might be possible to store an animal's complete genome, its collection of genes, using a tail snip or other cell instead of having to freeze an embryo, the researchers said. "Moreover, precious animals of either sex, for example endangered species and transgenic animals, can be propagated by cloning irrespective of their fertility status."
Much of the cloning research going on is part of commercial and scientific programs to create genetically engineered, or transgenic, animals. Mice are bred to carry human genes, for example, so that drugs can be tested on them.
PPL Therapeutics, the commercial arm of the Scottish laboratory where Dolly was made, breed animals that produce human proteins in their blood or milk and has teamed up with Geron to try to breed transgenic pigs whose organs contain human proteins for use in transplants.
Genetic engineering is hit-and-miss but researchers say they can create an animal that carries and expresses the genes just the way they want, and then clone it to get exact copies.