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Tomorrow never knows: dentist hopes to clone John Lennon from rotten tooth

27 August 2013

By Dr Anna Cauldwell

Appeared in BioNews 719

Canadian dentist Michael Zuk, who spent almost £20,000 on one of John Lennon's rotten molars at an auction in 2011, now plans to sequence Lennon's DNA in the hope of cloning him.

Zuk announced in a press release that the tooth, believed to have originally been given by Lennon to his housekeeper, Dot, at his Kenwood home, has now been sent to Penn State University, USA, where 'scientists are considering ways to extract the genetic code from the fragile specimen'.

'I am nervous and excited at the possibility that we will be able to fully sequence John Lennon's DNA, very soon I hope', Zuk said. 'With researchers working on ways to clone mammoths, the same technology certainly could make human cloning a reality'.

Zuk believes that after extracting Lennon's DNA 'it's just a matter of sitting around waiting for the technology to advance just a little bit longer'. However, the use of Lennon's DNA to create a genetically identical person is both legally and technically problematic. Many jurisdictions, including Canada and the UK, have laws that prohibit reproductive cloning.

Professor Azim Surani, Cambridge University, UK, said 'There is a universally accepted ban on human cloning, which was agreed because most of the resulting embryos from animal experiments are abnormal'.

Furthermore, even if it was possible to produce a human clone with identical genes as the original, they would not be the same. Although DNA determines some of a person's characteristics, environmental factors also play a major role. A clone would be unique and have its own personality, identity, and talents in the same way that identical twins do.

This has not deterred Zuk, however, from pursuing his goal. 'To potentially say I had a small part in bringing back one of rock's greatest stars would be mind-blowing', said Zuk, who has created a website dedicated to his attempt at bringing back Lennon. Who knows, Beatles fans desperate for a comeback tour might yet see their dream realised!

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Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

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