For the first time, scientists have cloned a mouse using a drop of blood.
Japanese scientists led by Atsuo Ogura, at the Riken BioResource Center in Tsukuba, Japan, collected circulating blood cells from the tail of a donor mouse to create a clone. The female mouse was cloned using peripheral leukocyte blood cells -- white blood cells that circulate in the blood rather than localizing in organs. She lived 23 months -- a normal life span -- and had the ability to reproduce, researchers said.
In the journal Biology of Reproduction, scientists said the study "demonstrated for the first time that mice could be cloned using the nuclei of peripheral blood cells."
Scientists used 10 microliters of the donor mice’s blood. Just 2.1 percent of the embryos created survived using the process. Despite the small percentage, the study’s results are major for cloning science since it allows scientists to clone copies of mice with fertility problems, Motherboard reports.
“This strategy will be applied to the rescue of infertile founder animals or a ‘last-of-line’ animal possessing invaluable genetic resources,” researchers wrote in the study’s abstract.
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Researchers used somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT, to create the clone -- the same method used by Scotland’s Roslin Institute that created Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal.
Back in March, researchers from the Riken Center for Developmental Biology cloned almost 600 exact genetic copies of a single mouse after 25 consecutive rounds of cloning. The cloned mice lived normal lives, were fertile and gave birth.
The latest study showed mice can be cloned using a drop of blood from living donors. Results also pointed to how the technique can be used in the future to clone mice en mass for farming or conservation purposes, BBC reports.
"Most somatic cells can be proliferated in vitro, unlike sex cells," Ogura, the study’s lead author, told Motherboard. "This makes the chance of cloning animals unlimited. Blood cells can be collected less invasively and are at the correct developmental stage of the cell cycle for cloning."