Our clones are safe, says company

By Melissa Trudinger
Monday, 18 February, 2002

Melbourne-based biotech Clone International has distanced itself from a new Japanese study that casts doubt on the safety and usefulness of a cloning technique.

The report, published on February 11 in Nature Genetics, outlined research in which Atsuo Ogura and colleagues suggested that some adverse effects of cloning would not be apparent in the days, weeks or even years after birth.

But Clone International managing director Dr Richard Fry, whose company has just sold two cloned bulls for nearly $400,000 each, dismissed the report as not being relevant to the continued success of his company's cloning efforts.

"It is difficult to extrapolate from one species to another," he said. "Many things, including the culture conditions, can affect the cloning success rate."

Research done by New Zealand-based AgResearch 'part of the Clone International venture' had greatly improved the efficiency of agricultural cloning techniques to about 15 per cent, he told Australian Biotechnology News.

In a commentary article that accompanied Ogura's study, Tony Perry of US cloning company Advanced Cell Technologies pointed out that variations in the development of clones might be due to technical factors such as the protocol used or the individual performing the procedure. Ogura's study used microinjection techniques to deliver the somatic cell DNA to the egg, rather than the nuclear fusion techniques used by Clone International. In fact, controls that had been subjected to micromanipulation also had an increased rate of premature death compared with naturally fertilised controls.

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