HIGHTOWER: Cloning For Fun and Profit

Time for another voyage into the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you into the unchartered universe of eternity, where time stands still, and you can live forever.Well, maybe you can't, but your dog Fido, your cat Fluffy, and all your other pets can. At least Richard Denniston thinks it's possible. Associated Press reports that his beloved Scottish terrier was soon to die, but Richard is an expert in reproductive physiology, so he took a tiny skin sample from the dog, cultured it, and froze this bit of DNA in liquid nitrogen -- saving it for the day when dog cloning will let him bring his terrier back, genetically speaking.Can it happen? Mark Westhusin, head of a dog cloning team at Texas A&M thinks it will happen ... and soon. Remember Dolly, the sheep that was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell in 1997? AP notes that cattle, goats, mice, and monkeys have likewise been cloned in labs since, and pets are likely to be next. Westhusin is hard at work on it, having received a $2.4 million grant from a wealthy dog-owner to advance canine cloning, and experts say a successful clone is only about five years down the road.Already, entrepreneurs are leaping at the financial opportunities of this technology like dogs chasing Frisbees. Richard Denniston, for example, has launched Lazaron BioTechnologies, which will collect your pet's DNA for $500 and store it for a monthly fee of $10. Also, professor Westhusin has created a company with the clever name of Genetic Savings & Clone. But the pet-clonging company that has the best name is one called perPETuate.This is Jim Hightower saying ... If they can clone your dog tomorrow, why not you the next day? Then you and Fido can play go fetch for eons.

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