The bond between a pet and pet-parent can be deep and unconditional. The thought of losing your pet – a family member – can be devastating. But what if you could clone your pet? That is exactly what David Best, MD, MBA, co-founder of MDea, BESTMSLs, and The Doctor's Channel, is preparing to do with his beloved canine companion, Elvis.

Dr. Best is working with ViaGen Pets and Equine to clone Elvis. Blake Russell, MBA, President of ViaGen, explains the relatively simple, non-invasive steps required to start the cloning process. Elvis is taken to a veterinarian and biopsies are taken from various locations to obtain different types of tissues for the cloning process. The recovery for Elvis is minor.

Kerry Ryan, DVM, attending veterinarian and Animal Care Manager for ViaGen, explains that ViaGen staff members take the tissue samples to the lab where the cells are cultured for about 2 weeks and cryopreserved. Elvis’s cryopreserved cells are then sent to ViaGen cloning scientists to be implanted into an unfertilized oocyte. The unfertilized oocyte will have the donor’s genetic material extracted, creating a “blank cassette” for Elvis’s full complement of DNA.

After the oocyte receives the genetic material from Elvis, the egg will have been tricked into thinking it was fertilized and then be transferred into a surrogate female dog. The surrogate female is specially selected based on size, temperament, and health. Elvis’s clone will be weaned at 8 weeks of age and will be ready to go to his home with Dr. Best. Mr. Russell further explains that although the dog is Elvis’s genetic twin and will share striking similarities to Elvis, as has been reported by other clients, he will be a separate dog in his own right, influenced by his environment.

Now that Elvis’s genes are preserved with ViaGen, the cloning process can be started whenever Dr. Best is prepared to move forward. However, Elvis is currently in good spirits for a dog over 15 years of age, so Elvis Too – will (hopefully) not be scheduled for some time to come. Stay tuned for Part 2.