Scientists in South Korea have successfully cloned dogs, and a recent attempt has created five pit bulls from Booger, a pet dog's genetic material. The request was from an American woman who lost Booger to cancer and who sought to replicate him with his genetic material. Among animals that have been cloned successfully for commercial purposes are cows that produce higher yield and better quality milk, and racing horses known for their speed.
Scientists are also trying to clone genetically modified pigs that pose the least threat of rejection when their organs are used to replace human ones — in a procedure that is referred to as xeno-transplantation — to save patients' lives when
viable human organs are not available. However, the most useful application of animal cloning technology could be in the recreation of service animals that are trained to acquire special skills, some of which might get imprinted in their genes.
The police and customs officials often rely on the expertise of trained dogs that are capable of sniffing out dope or detecting bombs and so help retrieving them before causing threat to human lives. Even more promising is the life-saving application of animal cloning in recreating animals that have the capability to detect diseases like cancer through their sophisticated sense of smell. Marine, a retriever in Japan, could sniff out the scent that cancer cells give off from a patient's breath or urine samples.
Trained Labradors are known to have alerted patients an impending stroke. And who can deny the invaluable services of the friendly guide dog without whose assistance a visually challenged person might have to lead a very limited life? If these skills could be easily replicated in a cloned animal, the technique's commercial viability would increase manifold, helping to cut down costs that are high right now.
Could the technique of cloning to recreate a loved one move from pets to human beings? It needs to be said here that a clone is not a perfect photocopy of the original, as things like upbringing, environment and perhaps even volition conspire to produce the characteristics of an individual.
However, despite the current ban on efforts to clone human beings for reproductive purposes, the sheer desire to bring into being replicas of loved ones, coupled with advances in animal cloning, might one day make replication of the Booger experiment with human beings inevitable.