FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BioArts International Ends Cloning Service; Blasts Black-Market Cloners
Mill Valley, California— BioArts International, the Northern California biotech company that offered the world's first commercial dog cloning service, announced today that it had completed delivery of healthy cloned dogs to all five clients from its "Best Friends Again" program, but would discontinue cloning dogs commercially as a result of several problems.
In a statement posted on the company's web site at www.bioarts.com, CEO Lou Hawthorne gave six reasons for his decision, including the failure of legal efforts to prevent Seoul-based RNL Bio from offering cloning services in violation of international patents. BioArts holds the sole, worldwide rights to clone dogs, cats and endangered species, which it licenses from Start Licensing of Austin, Texas.
Hawthorne characterized Start Licensing's legal response to RNL's infringing activities as, "too little, too late" and the value of BioArts' license from Start as "basically worthless."
BioArts began taking orders for dog cloning in 2008 with the Best Friends Again auction of five cloning slots. Shortly afterward RNL Bio announced that it, too, was taking dog cloning orders -- though it lacked the required license. RNL Bio also announced that the fee for its services would soon plummet. The resulting public confusion, said Hawthorne, killed what was already a specialized, niche market and left him with grave concerns about the future of dog cloning.
"RNL Bio can only slash the price of dog cloning by ignoring the safeguards we use to ensure the well-being of dogs involved in the cloning process," Hawthorne said. "RNL will not be able to afford an adoption program for surrogate mothers, nor care for unwanted dogs in perpetuity. Instead, for every dog RNL clones, a dozen or more will likely be slaughtered."
Despite producing and delivering numerous healthy cloned puppies, BioArts also observed occasional "physical anomalies," which led the company to conclude that "cloning is still an experimental technology and consumers would be well-advised to proceed cautiously," according to Hawthorne's statement.
In closing its cloning business, BioArts has also ended its partnership with the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation and its leader, Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk. "Dr. Hwang and the Sooam team were actually a pleasure to work with," said Hawthorne. "Unfortunately, this technology is not ready for prime time."
The company will concentrate its focus on the ongoing development of advanced tools and services for use in regenerative medicine, including micro-engineered cell culture devices and temperature-controlled bioshippers.
BioArts delivered the last cloned puppy from the “Best Friends Again” auction over the Labor Day weekend. In June, the company presented five clones of Trakr, the renowned search-and-rescue dog, to owner James Symington, whose essay had won the BioArts “Golden Clone Giveaway” contest.
BioArts International is a biotech startup based in the San Francisco Bay Area, with custom micro-engineering operations in London.
©2009 BioArts International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.