The Best-Laid Plans of Man: Mice

  • Share
  • Read Later
HONOLULU: The next generation of clones has arrived, and there's plenty of them to go around. Scientists at the University of Hawaii have scored a stunning and historic breakthrough by producing more than 50 identical mice since October 1997. What's more, by repeating the experiment over and over, the international team has created five generations of the mice: "Clones of clones of clones," in the words of Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama, the author of a report in Thursday's issue of Nature.

An avid science fiction fan as a child, Wakayama turned his attention to cloning a little more than a year ago. Surprisingly, his method of injecting embryos -- now dubbed the Honolulu technique -- has emerged as the world's first truly reliable blueprint for building a clone. "It's very reproduceable," says TIME science reporter Alice Park. "With this method, you can start with a mouse and at the end of the day have a clone in your hand."

So man can build a better mouse. And Dolly the sheep, who until yesterday was the only mammal clone proved to come from an adult cell, is no longer alone. Now researchers plan to try the Honolulu technique on cows, sheep and pigs. This could lead to improved AIDS, cancer and aging research -- not to mention the inevitable fears over human cloning. One thing's for certain: The Age of Genetic Engineering has well and truly begun.