Published last week in Nature, scientists have created mice solely from iPS cells. In normal person speak, this means that cells taken from adult tissue (skin cells), treated to become stem cells, were then coaxed into becoming embryos, and then grew into entire mice. Entire fraking mice. Meet Tiny.
The scientific implications are huge. This shows that an entire organism can be grown from adult cells, which means that mature tissue could give rise to an entire new organism.
This method doesn’t require the egg cell which was needed for Dolly to be successfully cloned. If an entire organism can be grown from iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells, then the tedious manipulation involved in the cloning process might be avoided, with the same results.
Like Dolly, the new organism, genetically identical to its source, carries no threat of transplant rejection should one be required from the new organism. On an unrelated note, have you seen the film The Island?
The ethical implications of this research are also pretty big. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to look into all the different dystopias that could result. My favourite goes something like this:
My dreams of world domination may become reality in the foreseeable future. However, if the whole human cloning thing never pans out (i.e. the “bioethicists” get their say) then maybe just I’ll make do with legions of mouse-clone warriors. I mean, look just how terrifying they are:
Wired Science: Living, Breeding Mice Grown From Skin Cells
Scientific American: Meet "Tiny," a mouse grown from induced stem cells
And the actual article at Nature: iPS cells produce viable mice through tetraploid complementation