A group of Japanese scientists announced producing the first mice clones from just a single drop of blood from a donor mouse. These clones were found to live normal lifespan and even were reproductively viable.

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The team from Riken BioResource Center published their findings this month in the journal Biology of Reproduction, stating they had used somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is the same method that produced Dolly, a sheep that was the first cloned animal.

The scientists stated in the abstract that their research was to determine whether blood cells from mice could be used for this cloning technique.

“The present study clearly indicated that genetic copies of mice could be produced using a drop of peripheral blood from living donors. This strategy will be applied to the rescue of infertile founder animals or a ‘last-of-line’ animal possessing invaluable genetic resources,” the abstract stated.

Although just over 2 percent of the cloned embryos survived, those that made it went on to function as normal mice.

In general, cloning mice, the paper stated, is different than cloning other large animals when it comes to preparing donor cells. But the mouse of donor cells that would create the clones for a scientific research had to be euthanized. With this new technique finding certain blood cells, obtained noninvasively, could be used for somatic cell nuclear transfer, the researchers wrote that they’re able to “generate clones without sacrificing the donor animals.”

Motherboard explained why this research is important to science:

In lab science, that’s a big deal: Mice are often genetically modified or bred to have certain diseases that model human disorders. But when one of those diseases leads to infertility, they often have to start the process over, leading to delays and increased costs in drug testing and research.

In general, cloning has been met with some controversy when it comes to its potential for resurrecting extinct species and creating human clones.

Earlier this year, researchers out of Oregon reported creating human embryo clones that produced viable stem cells, which they speculated could be used someday to further treatments for degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. This study was met with ethical backlash for creating “new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them.”

Featured image via Shutterstock.com. 

(H/T: BBC)