Japanese researchers have successfully cloned a mouse from a drop of blood taken from a donor’s tail. The breakthrough means that animals don't have to be euthanized when extracting their cells, which could prove important if we're ever going to clone endangered animals.
Typically, somatic nuclear cell transfer — the same technique used to clone Dolly the sheep — requires that the parent mouse be destroyed. This is problematic when scientists need to clone valuable strains of lab mice, or for when there’s only one specific individual left alive.
But the new technique, in which white blood cells were extracted from a blood sample, demonstrates that mice can be cloned using the nuclei of peripheral blood cells. Normally, these cells are extracted from white blood cells found in the lymph nodes, bone marrow, and liver.
According to the researchers at the RIKEN BioResource Centre, the cloned mouse lived a normal lifespan and is likely capable of producing offspring.
If this technique works with other, larger mammals, it could be used for the mass-production of farm animals, or for cloning animals that are considered endangered.
So in the future, just be careful about someone asking for a sample of your blood.
Read the entire study at Biology of Reproduction: “Mouse Cloning Using a Drop of Peripheral Blood.”