Chip could create mass-produced clones

January 30, 2002 | Source: New Scientist

A chip that will automatically create hundreds of cloned embryos at a time is being developed by a Californian biotech company, New Scientist has learned.If it lives up to its promise, the chip should help make cloning cheap and easy enough for companies to mass-produce identical copies of the best milk or meat producing animals for farmers. It might even be used for cloning human embryos.

The chip automates the laborious process of nuclear transfer, the key step in cloning. At present it takes hours of painstaking work with a microscope to remove the nucleus of an egg cell and replace it by fusing the denucleated egg with another cell.

“If somebody’s got something like that, obviously it would make everybody’s life easier,” says Tanja Dominko of Advanced Cell Technology, the Massachusetts company that caused a stir late last year when it announced that it had created cloned human embryos.